Astronaut Alan L. Bean, Lunar Module pilot for the Apollo 12 lunar landing mission, holds a container filled with lunar soil collected while exploring the lunar surface. Astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., commander, who took this picture, is reflected in the helmet visor.

Credits: NASA

NASA and Star Trek

Star Trek debuted in September 1966 and in its various incarnations, the series has been an inspiration to many, even some of us at NASA. The series allowed its fans to explore “strange new worlds” and to dream of what could be right in their living rooms. To celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary, we’ve collected some Trek-themed photos featuring Star Trek cast members and NASA astronauts. 

Serious Business

The STS-54 crew of the space shuttle Endeavour in their official “gag” photo are costumed as the bridge crew of the Enterprise as depicted in the movie “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” The photo was taken on the Star Trek Adventure set of the Universal Studios California theme park in Los Angeles, California, while the crew was on a west coast training and public relations tour during the Summer of 1992. From left to right: 

  • Greg Harbaugh (Mission Specialist/Engineering Officer)
  • Mario "Spock” Runco Jr. (Mission Specialist/1st Officer/Science Officer) 
  • John Casper (Commander/Captain) 
  • Susan Helms (Mission Specialist/Communications Officer) 
  • Don McMonagle (Pilot/Navigation-Helm Officer) 

“I have been, and always shall be, your friend”

Astronaut John Creighton shows the on board Graphical Retrieval Information Display (GRID) computer, which displays a likeness of Mr. Spock aboard STS-051G, June 18, 1985.

“A Keyboard… How Quaint”

Actor James Doohan (who played engineering genius Montgomery Scott in Star Trek) sits in the commanders seat of the Full Fuselage Trainer while astronaut Mario Runco explains the control panel during a tour of Johnson Space Center on Jan. 18, 1991. 

“You Wanted Excitement, How’s Your Adrenaline?”

Actress Nichelle Nichols (Uhura in Star Trek) toured Johnson Space Center in Houston on March 4, 1977, while Apollo 12 lunar module pilot and Skylab II commander Alan Bean showed her what it felt like inside the Lower Body Negative Pressure Device and showed her how the Shuttle Procedures Simulator operated. 

Nichols paid us another visit in 2012 and 2015 with the Space Traveling Museum. 

Infinite Diversity, Infinite Combinations

European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti gave the Vulcan salute aboard the International Space Station shortly after the passing of Leonard Nimoy on Feb. 28, 2015. She commented on Tweeter: “ ‘Of all the souls I have encountered.. his was the most human.’ Thx @TheRealNimoy for bringing Spock to life for us”

Live Long And Prosper

While visiting Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, George Takei (Hikaru Sulu on the original series) had the chance to exchange Vulcan salutes with Robonaut on May 29, 2012. 

“Let’s See What’s Out There”

Scott Bakula, who played Captain Jonathan Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise, stands with astronauts Terry Virts and Mike Fincke on set. The two astronauts made guest appearances on the series finale episode “These Are The Voyages …” March 2005.

Boldly Going For Real

Above is the crew of STS-134, the next to last shuttle mission, in their version of the 2009 Star Trek movie poster. 

The crew of Expedition 21 aboard the International Space Station also made a Trek-themed poster in 2009, wearing uniforms from Star Trek: The Next Generation with the Enterprise NX-01 silhouette in the background.

Learn more about Star Trek and NASA.

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“It was real cute. So I looked on a few other pages and, sure enough, there was a few more in there. So I ran over to where Pete was–I didn’t say anything on the air–and pointed to mine and he pointed to his and we laughed with each other. But we didn’t say a word, because we knew there was gonna be some little old ladies back on Earth that would be very upset that their tax dollars had sent Playboy bunnies up there to the Moon”

— Apollo 12 LMP Alan Bean