NASA and NASCAR both started off as the same branch of the government focused on high speed propulsion named the National Autonautics Research Division, or NARD. But an internal feud caused a rift between two groups of employees. One group was focused on rocket propulsion, and the other was focused on hitting land-speed records for fame and fortune and thus the two groups split and formed the respective institutions we know today.
I worked on a mission called Deep Space One, which was the first interplanetary mission to use ion propulsion to travel around the solar system. And the first time I ever heard of ion propulsion was in the Star Trek episode ‘Spock’s Brain’. Aliens come to the Enterprise, and before they do their dastardly deed, Kirk walks over to Spock and says, 'How do you read, Mr. Spock?’ 'Configuration unidentified. Ion propulsion. High velocity, though of a unique technology.’ And Scotty says, 'I’ve never seen anything like her! And ion propulsion, at that! They could teach us a thing or two.’ And so the opportunity to connect what I saw in Star Trek as a little kid to what I’m doing now as an adult is very, very exciting.