Star Trek has recently celebrated its 50th anniversary since its pilot episode aired in American television on 1966. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has congratulated Star Trek for reaching such a milestone. NASA and Star Trek have always maintained a good relationship over the years. A part of this affinity is probably the parallel universe they share.
Where The Parallel Universe Lies
According to Space, the Star Trek series and movies portrayal of spaceflight endeavors are akin to that of NASA. These relations became more obvious to the audience in the succeeding years. Among them are NASA's spacecraft and its achievements. Indeed, the universe that NASA is exploring could be the same one where Star Trek exist.
The said franchise has tried to incorporate things that are NASA-related into their fictional universe. The only catch is that it puts twists on the real events that occurred. The Star Trek: The Motion Picture movie deployed the Voyager 6, a 20th-century space probe. In the same year when the film was released, NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 had observed Jupiter's moons. The fictional Voyager 6 looked similar to NASA's two spacecraft.
The said movie also featured Pioneer 10. It was straying into Klingon territory 270 years from now, according to Space. In real life, NASA's Pioneer 10 was launched in March 1972. It is now expected to leave the Solar System and head into the interstellar medium. Its sister craft Pioneer 11 will follow suit.
The same scenario already happened with the New Horizons spacecraft and the two Voyager spacecraft mentioned above. Occasionally, NASA-related images would be seen in the Star Trek series. Likewise, things about NASA would also be mentioned.
According to Collect Space, Star Trek actors like Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy had made a crossover to NASA's real universe. Shatner and the late Nimoy had lent their voices to NASA. They narrated documentaries and had supported NASA's outreach efforts.
Nichols was involved in recruiting women and minorities as space shuttle-era astronaut candidates. She had been in a NASA mission where she got to board the airborne observatory, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. She had mentioned that it felt similar to being inside the Starship Enterprise.
NASA And Star Trek: The Other Way Around
The fictional Starship Enterprise doesn't entirely mirror that of NASA. There are instances where its unique concepts could have actually influenced that of NASA's. The Royale episode of Star Trek's Next Generation series had launched a future shuttle called Charybdis on July 23, 2037. Astronaut Stephen Richey was aboard the shuttle.
The NASA "worm" logo on the spacecraft would be retired three years after in 1992. The said episode aired on 1989.
The patch for NASA's STS-125 mission from May 11 to May 24, 2009 was designed by Michael Okuda. He also designed the program logo for Orion. He is the same graphic designer who did the computer displays inside the Enterprise in the said Star Trek series.
Real-life astronauts have also adapted themselves into the fictional universe of Star Trek. The first African-American woman in space and a crew member of Endeavour, Mae Jemison, appeared in a Star Trek episode of the same series.
Mike Fincke and Terry Virts wore Starfleet uniforms in the Star Trek: Enterprise series on 2005. Fincke explained it well when he said that there's always been a link between science fiction and science fact. He added that these are means of people's dreams to explore.