Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trekkie NASA Crews


Photo blitz! This is one of those days where I am grateful NASA never copyrights anything. I lent my Star Trek TOS tri-corder DVD sets to an ex-co-worker-still-friend, who spotted my "Trekspedition" poster on the wall, and marveled that only one space station crew ever suited up in Star Trek garb.

Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? Nay, you jest. NASA has a rich history of crossing the streams when it comes to the Trek pop culture!

In 1993, the STS-54 crew of Shuttle Endeavour were the first to suit up in Trek uniforms (much like those in the Trek movie released during their training period, The Undiscovered Country). I particularly enjoyed astronaut Mario Runco’s use of the Vulcan ears and the Tich Tor Ang Tesmur hand sign.

Mae Jemison
That same year, Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, also became the first astronaut to appear in an actual episode of a Trek television series, when she played Lieutenant Palmer in the episode "Second Chances" of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Influenced as a child by Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on the original series (1966-69) to become an astronaut, she was invited by cast member LeVar Burton to guest star, after he heard she was a Star Trek fan.

The STS-90 crew of Shuttle Columbia flew in 1998, and the uniforms in their press photos thus reflect the designs used in the contemporary films Star Trek: First Contact and Insurrection.

Terry Virts, Scott Bakula, Mike Fincke
In May of 2005, astronauts Terry Virts and Mike Fincke joined Scott Bakula and the cast of Star Trek: Enterprise, playing 22nd century engineers aboard the NX-01 in the series finale. Fincke happily told the press he had watched episodes of the show during his 6-month stay on the ISS during Expedition 9 in 2004.

Expedition 21
In 2009, Expedition 21 on the ISS again took up the TNG design for their beautifully designed press poster, still available for download at NASA Spaceflight Awareness.

For a less authentic but appreciably creative view of astronauts sporting Trek themes, see heap big famous NASA-Trekkie geek Mike Okuda’s photoshop gallery: Peggy Whitson with Vulcan ears?? No wonder NASA let this guy design some of their mission patches...


astrowright said...

Awesome post! I always find myself trying to explain to people just how important pop culture/sci-fi tie-ins are, especially with space exploration. I mean, I'd be lying if I said growing up with Star Trek didn't play a huge role in my own push toward the stars... How fun to see all of these photos together!

PillowNaut said...

Thank you! It was a fun project to hunt them all down and gather the pictures, people and dates together in one place. While doing so, I found tons of articles by all kinds of astronauts, saying how much they were influenced by Star Trek shows. Pop culture Sci-Fi is indeed important... most kids decide they want to BECOME astronauts because of it! :)