The “Star Trek” franchise imagines a time when living in space is just as common as living on a planet like Earth. It envisions space travel as the new international travel, as easy as hopping on a plane or an ocean liner.
However, there is an overlap between people who have actually been to space and the “Star Trek” universe. Here are the Trek stars that have actually boldly gone where few have gone before.
Mae Jemison made history in 1992 when she joined the crew of the spaceship Endeavour. According to NASA, she logged over 190 hours in space on that mission, making her the first Black female astronaut in space.
Shortly after her historic mission, Jemison left NASA. That same year, she made an appearance in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
According to StarTrek.com, LeVar Burton, who played Geordi LaForge on the show, was friends with someone who knew Jemison. That mutual friend told Burton that Jemison was obsessed with “Star Trek” and that Lieutenant Uhura from “Star Trek: The Original Series” inspired her to become an astronaut.
Burton got in touch with Jemison through their mutual friend and suggested that she do a guest appearance on TNG. They worked it out with the producers, and Jemison appeared as Lieutenant Palmer in the episode “Second Chances.”
Edward Michael “Mike” Fincke
Edward Michael “Mike” Fincke has been an astronaut since 1996, according to his NASA bio. He’s been to space three times so far, logging almost 381 days in space. He’s also logged over 48 hours doing spacewalks. Fincke is preparing to head into space for the fourth time in 2021.
In an interview with Space.com, Fincke and fellow astronaut Terry Virts explained how they ended up guest-starring in an episode of “Star Trek: Enterprise.” While they were on vacation, Fincke and Virts decided to visit the set of the show. After their tour of the set, the team invited them to guest star on the show.
They both appeared in the series finale, “These Are The Voyages…”
Terry W. Virts Jr.
Virts was a NASA pilot from 2000-2016, according to his NASA bio. He’s piloted two ships into space. Virts has logged more than 200 days in space and over 19 hours on spacewalks.
Virts told Space.com that he’s been a fan of “Star Trek” since he was young. He watched “The Original Series” and the TOS movies frequently, and they inspired him to become a space explorer.
Posthumous Space Trekkers
“Star Trek’s” creator, Gene Roddenberry, didn’t make it into space while he was alive. However, he did make it to space posthumously. So did his wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. After her husband’s death, a spaceflight company called Celestis contacted Barrett-Roddenberry. They offered to send some of Roddenberry’s ashes to space on one of their unmanned ships.
Barrett-Roddenberry accepted though she had one request. She asked Celestis to send her ashes into space with Roddenberry’s on a future spaceflight. Barrett-Roddenberry wanted to be with her husband for the rest of time, in deep space.
So, the company sent some of Roddenberry’s ashes to space and saved some for a future “trip” with his beloved. Their ashes went to space on a Celestis ship several years after Barrett-Roddenberry’s death.
James Doohan, who played Scotty in “The Original Series,” also made it to space after his death. His ashes were smuggled aboard the International Space Station in 2008.
Future Space Trekkers
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a lifelong Trekker. He’s such a fan of the franchise that he negotiated his way into the Trekverse. Basically, Bezos bugged the studio until they gave him a speaking part in “Star Trek: Beyond.” So, he’s officially part of the “Star Trek” Kelvin canon.
As a massive “Star Trek” fan, Bezos has dreamed of going to space since he was young. In July 2021, he’ll get to live that dream. One of his many companies, Blue Origin, built a space-worthy vessel dubbed the New Shepard. The vessel will launch with Bezos aboard this summer.
Elon Musk, another billionaire dedicated to making deep space exploration possible, is also a “Star Trek” fan. In an interview about the newly formed Space Force, Musk said that his goal is to make “Star Trek” a reality someday.
Musk’s company, SpaceX, has already sent multiple people into space, though Musk hasn’t been one of them. Before the end of the year, the company is planning to send four non-astronauts into space, The Atlantic reported.
At some point, Musk will likely head to space himself.
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