Watch George Takei & Nichelle Nichols Talking Final Shuttle Launch On MSNBC

This morning Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Florida for what is the final launch of the Shuttle program. And tonight to commemorate the event Star Trek’s George Takei and Nichelle Nichols were guests on MSNBC’s The Last Word to talk about the past and future of NASA’s manned space program. Watch the segment below. 


George Takei and Nichelle Nichols on final launch of shuttle

Here are Star Trek’s George Takei and Nichelle Nichols on MSNBC talking about today’s final launch of the Space Shuttle program.

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And here is the final launch via NASA TV.



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sad in a way….
need to move on to next …

Hi-res of the AP photo of Nimoy, Takei, Kelley, and Doohan (and I think that is Roddenberry from the back, to Nimoy’s left) at the Space Shuttle Enterprise rollout and other great Shuttle program pics here:

No sorry, tried to watch it but can’t stomach Takei’s ramblings.

I wonder if George and Nichelle, way back in 1966 when they first met on that Star Trek studio set, ever envisioned being interviewed about NASA on TV 45 years later?

I bet Takei thought he’d be running the Space programme, Harry.

I’ve heard that George, during the start to an intimate moment, has been heard to exclaim, “3, 2, 1…..lift-off! We have lift-off!”

Saw the launch this morning. It was the very definition of mixed emotions. I used to have shuttle model kits as a kid, and like many of my generation, grew up with the “Moonraker” vision for the shuttle; a low-cost space truck that could be launched when needed and provide easy, continuous access to low-earth orbit. Sadly, it never achieved anything near that.

It’s been very expensive. There have been 14 fatalities and two lost ships. We have a very expensive space station over our heads without (for the moment) easy access to and fro (except for hitching rides in Russian Soyuz capsules; which are still operating and only slightly modified since the Cold War). It’s been a sobering lesson in space travel economics.

However, IMO the shining achievements of the program have been two-fold; more scientists and engineers have flown in space than ever before (some of whom Nichelle Nichols herself personally recruited when she did PR for NASA). Women in space is now a relatively common occurrence (unlike the 20 yr gap between Valentina Tereshkova and Dr Sally Ride).

And the Hubble Space Telescope! The shuttle did something that no unmanned or robotic mission could’ve achieved by taking the scope into it’s bay, personally servicing it and retrofitting its faulty optics, and releasing it back into an independent orbit. The Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized astronomy to the point where astronomy is almost divided into pre and post Hubble eras. It was a fundamental change in how we now perceive the universe.
That, for me, will ALWAYS be Hubble’s greatest achievement… ;-)

Certain political factions want the space program dead or privatized. They are getting their wishes and it is a huge mistake. It’s sad we have people who are not forward thinking enough to have the ability to look back and see what the space program has given us for the comparatively small price paid for it.
Think about the things that derived from the space program. Here is a link to get you started, but first consider the PC, which would not be possible today without the space program and the advances it has given us.

Sad that we as a nation waste so much money on needless things and we refuse to fund learning about the universe we live in. I think the shuttles were retired far beyond their time, at least the two newer ships were. They worked pretty well, all things considered. 2 lost, yes, but that’s in a 30 year time span. Not like there’s anything we can do but be sad for the death of an era.

As Nicole said, we humans are explorers. We should not be Earth-bound.

We need to get our asses to Mars or … elsewhere.

Fun fact (from wikipedia):

“The USSR’s launch of Sputnik spurred the United States to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, later DARPA) in February 1958 to regain a technological lead. ARPA created the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) to further the research of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) program, which had networked country-wide radar systems together for the first time.”

These “networked systems” were the foundation for what would eventually become—the internet. So, it goes to show how just one leap into space can affect the entire world… in more ways than one.

What do have next for us, Russia? DARPA? Anybody,,,? Anybody,,,?


Edit: What do YOU have for us…

Well here’s Britains attempt at spurring you guys on, Vults…. 8-)

Quite possibly my favourite TG of all.

#3 Yes. He kept repeating himself and talked over Nichelle when she tried to say something. Too hard to watch and listen to. Sorry – that voice of his makes my skin crawl.

Anyway, George and Nichelle are only actors. They were never part of the space programme. Why were they there? It is a shame that Isaac Asimov isn’t around as he was a close friend of Gene Roddenberry, encouraged Gene with his Star Trek project, was a scientist as well as a science-fiction writer. Asimov died in 1992.

From Wikipedia about Isaac Asimov:
“He was also a close friend of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and earned a screen credit on Star Trek: The Motion Picture for advice he gave during production (generally, confirming to Paramount Pictures that Roddenberry’s ideas were legitimate science-fictional extrapolation).”

Ah now, if Khan had had that Reliant, he surely would’ve beaten Kirk… or turned the vehicle on its side. Either way. ;)

Gotta love a car that’s only good while going in strait lines.

@ 3

Buzz Cagney says, “No sorry, tried to watch it but can’t stomach Takei’s ramblings.”

Huh? At the 3:20 mark of the piece, Takei was asked about his work for NASA regarding diversity. He talked about the first shuttle called Enterprise relating it to this last launch. Then Takei then talked about Star Trek’s boldy going where no TV program had gone before,by having diversity in its crew. He talked about different lanquages and political diversity. See Russian as in Chekov. Said hello to Nichelle. Then he talked about the future and brought it back to NASA. That’s it. And no he did not bring up gay rights, if that’s what’s bothering you.

He didn’t just shoot off his mouth about diversity. He was asked about the NASA program which he took a part of and related it to Star Trek. Because when Star Trek came out, it was unheard of to have blacks, and women as main characters. In fact, in America, there were few blacks and women in prominent roles anywhere. We all know that Gene Roddenberry wanted to lecture against racism. I mean he put this crew of a black woman, a Japanese pilot, a Russian officer (we had a Cold War with Russia at the time), a Scottish engineer, a white Captain and an alien science officer. Oh, I forgot he put in a southern doctor. I would like to hear more of George Takei’s ramblings of Star Trek and diversity.

This is why I love Star Trek. Nichelle Nichols was enthsiastic about the future and exploring the stars. She talked about how Star Trek inspired people in NASA to become scientists. Great Delta ensigna neclace. Later she talked about Gene Roddenberry’s vision of exploring the stars. She was passionate about NASA and the future of man in space.

@ 14

Keachick says,”He kept repeating himself and talked over Nichelle when she tried to say something.”

I thought he did a good job of talking about his involvement with NASA’s diversity program and Star Trek’s diversity. If that’s repeating, I don’t agree. You then imply he talked over Nichelle. It was Nichelle who interrupted George during his segment. In fact, God love her, Nichelle even interrputed science reporter Miles O’Brien.

Keachick then says, “Anyway, George and Nichelle are only actors. They were never part of the space programme. Why were they there?>”

Did you watch the piece? George Takei was asked by NASA to take part in a diversity program. He said that in the piece. Later, Nichelle Nichols talked about how she was asked to help recruit minorities and women into NASA. Yeah, you could say they didn’t launch the rockets but they helped to break the racial and sexual lines for NASA.

And according to this wikipedia article, Nichols’ program helped to recruit the first American woman in space. Dr. Sally Ride.

#16 I have no idea what the hell the man was talking about as I have no desire to listen to him, so please don’t try to suggest I am in some way homophobic or racist. You will just make me extremely bloody annoyed if you try that one on with me.
Put quite simply, I just do not like Takei. If that is too difficult for you to grasp then its your problem, not mine.

What about the HD footage from the fuel tank camera? When the shuttle rolled right way up and you saw the beautiful tangent of our blue planet behind it ………. it reminded me of the first time I saw the Enterprise leave drydock in ST:TMP with the earth looking beautiful and blue beside it.

I saw the first shuttle launch on TV as a kid and now I’ve seen the last one …… it’s been interesting times to live in, now I just have to look after my health to live long enough to see a human land on Mars.

“I saw the first shuttle launch on TV as a kid and now I’ve seen the last one …… it’s been interesting times to live in, now I just have to look after my health to live long enough to see a human land on Mars.”

Right there with you Aussie Ian!
That’s one of the reasons I got a gym membership this year.
Nice to see that I’m not the only dreamer out there… ;-)

Ah, the irony…no mention, of course, from Nichelle nor George about why the shuttle program was suddenly dismantled and, more specifically, no mention of WHO gave the order.

The space program now being totally supported by the private sector???…well, it has been already, but since we have a group of leaders and a movement in this country that vehemently despises the private sector…well, you can pretty much conclude that the US space program is practically dead. If you don’t believe that, talk to the people at NASA say round the Kennedy Space I have..who are not very optimistic right now. Wonder if they will count the jobs now lost at NASA with the current 9.2% unemployed.

Now, if we need or want to go back up to the space station, we have to hitch a ride with Russia if and when they may be going back. And, considering their cosmonauts stay for months at a time…well…

22… Can we please leave the politics out of this? The order was given 7 1/2 years ago by President Bush…

“The shuttle’s chief purpose over the next several years will be to help finish assembly of the International Space Station. In 2010, the space shuttle, after nearly 30 years of duty, will be retired from service.”

President George Bush
January 14, 2004

The Shuttle’s retirement has been in progress for several years now… long lead items for building External Tanks and myriad other components have long since gone out of production. By the time Mr. Obama took office, it would have been very expensive to restart production, and would have taken a couple of years. Mr. Obama decided at time and money would be better spent fostering commercial space services.

We have been launching humans into orbit for 50 years now. 50 years after the Wright Brothers, Boeing flew the first 707 jetliner. Why are we still doing LEO space the same way we did in 1962?

@ 19

Buzz Cagney says, “No sorry, tried to watch it but can’t stomach Takei’s ramblings,” @ 3

“I have no idea what the hell the man was talking about as I have no desire to listen to him, so please don’t try to suggest I am in some way homophobic or racist.” @ 19

“Put quite simply, I just do not like Takei.” @ 19

One, I never said you were racist or homophobic. Two, it wasn’t clear if you watched his comments or not.. Keachick thought you watched it because she agrees with you by referring to his comments. You said you tried to watch so I thought you saw some of his comments.

But it’s clear from your response that you hate Takei so much that you refuse to listen to anything he has to say. To which I say, and if I may paraphrase Mr. Spock, “That’s not logical.” For example, if George Takei had the greatest stock tip in the world with your feelings of hatred for him, you wouldn’t listen to him? Really?

@ 23 Thorny

Thanks Thorny for pointing out that President George W. Bush cancelled the Shuttle program. People like blaming President Obama for everything. To Bush’s credit, he did wan to return to the moon as a stepping stone to Mars. Link.

Nichelle is still hot.

#24 Bloody hell you are quite the little bore aren’t you. And you are defintely not nearly as clever as you believe yourself to be.

You defintely did suggest I didn’t wish to listen because he was gay. I suggest you read your own post again.

And I quote… ‘and no he did not bring up gays if thats whats bothering you’
Er, it was you that brought his sexuality up, not me. Why would you do that? I’m guessing its because you are one of the ghastly PC brigade who are desperately clinging to the notion that the whole world apart from you has nothing but evil intent towards gays and different ethnic groups

Er, hello, I’m a Trek fan! I’m one of the enlightened one’s!.
I don’t understand why you would assume otherwise on the back of my one simple comment!

Please do not read into others comments that which is not there just to satisfy your own feelings of superiority. You aren’t. You are a nuisance and a drag..

My comment could not have been more simple- I just have no desire to listen to Takei. I’ve heard everything he has to say a thousand times before.
And there endeth my conversation with you. You have properly bloody pi$$ed me off.


@Thorny- NASA was castrated by politicians with no vision. Politics cannot be kept out of the discussion. President Obama can only give lip-service to any ‘extra’ programs now [NASA] because of the mess supply side economics and deregulation has put us in.
The Geat Bird, President Kennedy, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan and many other forward thinkers are spinning in their graves because of the politicians who are trying and succeeding in killing this vison of the future.
Politics is all we have left of that vision today. No way to keep it out of the discussion if we are to have a vital and vibrant discussion about NASA and the remnants of the Space Program.

Or we can just go about our business and think everything is fine if we stay the course…. It’s a free country.

Did anyone else notice how the newscaster mentioned George Takei as “the actor who was Captain Sulu on the original series” and neither Takei nor Nichelle Nichols bothered to correct him?

@ 27

Sigh. We’re down to name calling. You said that you could “not take Takei’s ramblings.” @ 3. I argued that he did not ramble. I discussed his comments on diversity becuase that is what he said. AND i ASKED A QUESTION.TO YOU THIS WAY, “And no he (Takei) did not bring up gay rights, IF that’s what’s bothering you.” Note the word “IF.” Nowhere did I say you were homophobic. Later, you made it clear you were not. homophobic. @ 19. If I thought you were homophobic then I would have said somewhere in this thread that you were, Sheesh. I didn’t know why you hate Takei. Now that we’ve eliminated homosexuality, maybe it’s his expression of “Oh my…” that makes you hate Takei. Frankly, IF it’s that catch phrase, I see your point. .

Yes, I questioned your hatred of George Takei from a logic stand point. But I’ve seen you’ve decided to raise the level of conversation by calling me, “one of the ghastly PC brigade” and a “nuisance and a drag.” Wow, you really don’t know me.

But to end this on peaceful note. I will again look to Spock. You are a fellow Trekker and I say this with sincerity. “Live long and prosper.”

@29- Takei was indeed Captain Sulu in STVI, Captain of the Exelsior for at least 3 years at the time…

28… My point is that NASA funding isn’t really a Democrat/Republican issue, much as one side or the other tries to make it so. We have strange bedfellows right now for the SLS/Orion funding, such as Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Shelby (R-AL) on the same side of the issue. Meanwhile, Senator Nelson (D-FL) and Senator Mikulski (D-MD) opposed President Obama’s focus on commercial space.

It’s not Takei talking over Nichelle, they just arn’t used to satellite interviews and, give them a break, they are old so timing is no longer their strong point.

@23…no ‘politics’ in my comment at all…sir or madam. notice i NEVER said a specific name nor party nor affiliation to any political party. and, again, as has been stated over and over and over again when people are saying Pres Bush ‘stopped’ the shuttle program..lets read the entire speech please and stop taking out the parts that best suits your supposed argument…geez…

“The crew exploration vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the space station after the shuttle is retired.” President Bush 14 Jan 2004 speech.

See full text of speech at

On 14 Jan 2004, President Bush’s plan was to retire the shuttles when a replacement vehicle was available. Since there is no replacement vehicle, President Bush’s plan to retire the shuttles is null and void. That leaves this decision with President Obama!

The ISS may need large parts that only a shuttle could replace. Some of these large, bulky parts could fail. Such a failure could jeoparize the safety of the crew and/or the mission they perform and possibly the ISS itself. How can we extend the life of the ISS without a support vehicle available to replace a large or bulky piece of mission or life sustaining equipment?

The shuttles are much safer to fly now. Even if a tile is damaged, they can fix it in space. We have invested so much into the shuttles. They are launching and performing their intended missions flawlessly. Why retire them now?

It is mr obama’s decision to allow the shuttles to retire or extend them until a replacement vehical is online. Since mr obama has cancelled Constellation, there will be no replacement vehicle.

How can one president be allowed to tear down everthing JFK built up.

…ah, hell…here, you wanna play politics..then why didnt ms pelosi when she took over congress two years before bush left office, extend the shuttle program. or…and your gonna LOVE this one…all trade agreements and all private contracts for the shuttle program is controlled by the president…WHY didnt mr o extend the program??

come on…you know the answer..come on..dont be shy. say it..’cause he had to…’ what? ‘cut all corners of any program to…’ what? ‘fund his stimulus package’…! ah, see that wasnt so hard, now was it?

@ 35. russ
“WHY didnt mr o extend program??”
It was too expensive russ.

America is broke and here is why………. Haliburton and the bankers.

28. Careful whose name you invoke when complaining about the current state of NASA. Carl Sagan despised manned spaceflight (and Star trek, BTW), and would have been completely happy with the current state of affairs. The Republican attempt to cancel Webb, not so much, but the end of the shuttle, billions of thumbs up from Carl.

38. Because the shuttle supply pipeline had been shut down by Bush’s second pathetic NASA administrator, Michael Griffin. It would have been prohibitively expensive to restart, just as Constellation would have been prohibitively prohibitive to continue, as it was starved during Bush’s second term. I know, I worked at KSC from 2006 to 2008.

Now, here’s a question for you. If Republicans are better supporters of space than Democrats (we won’t even discuss which president cut off the Apollo program, then cut the design budget for the shuttle, resulting in the deaths of two ships and fourteen astronauts), please explain to me why the House Ways and Means Committee cut Obama’s budget request for NASA?


Just curious, but what exactly was Sagan’s beef with manned spaceflight and Star Trek?


I don’t think Sagan had a “beef” with either one. He did mention that he thought the space shuttle was somewhat limited in it’s goals and that NASA should be exploring the cosmos and not simply orbiting earth time after time. I think he felt man space flight would be extremely difficult, but he was never against it at all.

Sagan gave ST credit on many occasions for getting people/kids interested in space and science related efforts. I think he felt ST was good entertainment, but simplistic in it’s view of the universe. For example he would state that it was pretty unlikely that most of the aliens would basically look like us and speak perfect english.

I feel they stepped over Nichelle in this discussion, that host cut her off early and she had to fight hard to get back into that conversation like he wanted to cut her out, very weird.


Thanks. I figured a guy like Sagan wouldn’t be as narrow-minded as the post above made it seem. His criticisms of NASA and Trek are certainly valid, especially concerning the space shuttle.

Takei is a man of great class. I do not agree with his viewpoints, but, if there is one gay person that I support fully is George, he is a good man. As for the interview Satellite is a finicky thing, it was great to see them on the screen together again (Hear that J.J.!). As for NASA every administration since George H.W. Bush has screwed them over. We had 30 years to plan the next step, and the U.S. Government dropped the ball. Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon are heroes to the space program. Those four men helped NASA be a great institution.

Going back to Nichelle Nichols’ words, and for lack of a better term, I think all of us should be proud to be fans of a great fictional franchise that has translated its ideas into reality. Nichele Nichols talks about inspiration as being the fuel to propel us further to explore the stars. And as I have saidt, many NASA scientists were inspired by Star Trek.

One of my favorite lines from Star Trek: Deep Space 9’s “Little Green Men” was this.

” I only hope that one day mankind will travel to the stars and take its place in the vast Alliance of Planets.”

That’s one beautiful vision, Gene Roddenberry.

Ending the space shuttle program is not a mistake. Not having a replacement is the mistake, and that is the result of space shuttle operations being too expensive to simultaneously allow a credible replacement to be developed with the remainder of we are willing to pay for NASA.

At least the space shuttle was flown down to the last available hardware. STS-135 used the last external tank. The way Apollo was cancelled was ridiculous, with three moon rockets ready to fly but grounded. Someone later calculated that the incremental savings from canceling the final moon landings, because the workforce remained employed for subsequent projects, was only tens of millions of dollars. The end of Apollo was a classic penny-wise, pound-foolish missed opportunity to maximize exploration of the moon compared to what it would cost to return later.

NASA has spent over $9 billion on Constellation since 2005.

Delta IV and Atlas 5 cost about $1.5 billion each to develop, 1996-2002.

SpaceX has spent about $600 million on Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Dragon to date. Dragon needs perhaps another billion dollars to be man-capable.

NASA could easily have fielded a new U.S. manned spacecraft while Shuttle wound down, had it made realistic plans to do so instead of dreaming up “Apollo on Steroids”.

There were only two Saturn Vs left at the end of Apollo, not three (the third one on display today is a test article.)

That was a really awkward interview…

GOerge and Nichelle are clearly passionate about the work they did with NASA and they should be.

Also I am amazed no has commented theat the science correspondent was called Miles O’Brien.

I wish it was the Enterprise. She never went to orbit an it would be nice to close it by sending her first and only last mission into space. As for a musical theme: Star Trek:Enterprise theme – “Faith Of The Heart”. Your criticisms is welcome. Thanks for your time.

@ 49. NX-UESPA Class Starship

NX-UESPA Class Starship says, ” it would be nice to close it by sending her (shuttle Enterprise) first and only last mission into space.”

Since space shuttle Enterprise has no engines or a functional heat shield, it would be her first and last mission in space. Link. And it would be the last mission for the astronauts too! As for the song from “Enterprise” “Faith of the Heart” to be your choice for musical theme , I say music is subjective but a soft rock song doesn’t inspire me as a much as a bold and majestic theme. Plus it’s from the critical bomb “Patch Adams.”

Look, the more I see of the show, “Enterprise” the more I like it. It’s a much maligned show. It didn’t deserve to be cancelled before its time.