On July 29th, 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act into law and NASA was born. Thus began the space race of the 60s, which sparked more popular culture interest in space. Since the shooting of the first pilot for Star Trek in 1964, there have been numerous references to NASA in Trek, all the way through to the last series Enterprise.
NASA and Trek
Starting with the multiple images of NASA probes shown in “The Cage,” NASA has been a big part of Star Trek from The Original Series, to the movies all the way to Star Trek Enterprise. Even the ‘delta shield’ logo is derivative of the NASA logo, and the TOS (and Enterprise) convention of assignment patches is borrowed from NASA’s many mission patches. Our friends over at the excellent site Ex Astris Scientia have put together a comprehensive feature article on all the references to NASA and Star Trek.
NASA has also helped out with Star Trek productions, providing images and information to make the show as real as possible. This still goes on today with Caroline Porco advising JJ Abrams on his new Star Trek feature as well as imagery being provided to the Trek Remastered team.
Voyager VI (aka V’Ger) from Star Trek The Motion Picture
Star Trek and NASA have also had an impact on each other in the real world. Many Star Trek stars have been involved in NASA activities from education to helping wake up the crew in the International Space Station. Trek artist Mike Okuda has designed multiple mission patches for NASA and in what may be the biggest real world Trek-NASA connection, the first space shuttle was renamed Enterprise in honor of Star Trek.
Roddenberry and the Original Series cast with the real life Enterprise
From the staff at TrekMovie.com: Happy Birthday NASA! May you live long and prosper!