The outpouring of emotion following the death of Leonard Nimoy last week drives home how large a role he played in our collective vision of space travel, both real and imagined. There’s hardly an astronaut who hasn’t been touched in some way by Star Trek in one of its many incarnations.
Take, for example, this anecdote from an American space station resident quoted (anonymously) in a review of NASA astronaut journals, about watching films with Russian cosmonauts:
I’m dragging [my crewmates] through all the Star Trek movies. It’s been a lot of fun to be the lucky person to introduce Star Trek to a couple of space enthusiasts who never had the opportunity to see how we made the dream come alive on TV and on the big screen in America. A few movies back, when Spock’s father took leave of him after saving the planet, the two Vulcans raised their hands, did the Vulcan salute, and said the proverbial “Live Long and Prosper.” I died laughing as [they] spontaneously tried to give the same salute. To see them doing something for the first time that I did for the first time about 40 years ago was unbelievably funny and nostalgic. They are really into this and I’m having a great time showing it to them.