Mark Kelly. [Image by Brian Ach/Getty Images]

‘Star Trek’: Roddenberry Foundation Prize Will Have Astronaut Mark Kelly As Judge

The flame of the Star Trek legacy is being kept lit, in part, by the Roddenberry Foundation Prize. The Inquisitr reported on its start in September, 2016. Now, linking science fiction with science fact, one of the judges to determine who wins the prizes will be astronaut Mark Kelly.

Rod Roddenberry, the son of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, began The Roddenberry Foundation in 2010. The organization has the ambitious goal of bettering lives on a global scale.

Rod Roddenberry. [Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]
Rod Roddenberry. [Image by Jason Kempin/Getty Images]

The Roddenberry Prize, set to be given out February, is to help promote unique concepts to improve the world.

“The five best ideas for a boldly better future will be awarded a total of $1 million; one $400,000 grand prize and four $150,000 awards.”

The submission deadline for the Roddenberry Prize was in November, 2016. Now, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly will be among the judges choosing the winners; Kelly was involved in four space shuttle missions.

Kelly’s twin brother, Scott Kelly, is also a NASA astronaut. Scott Kelly recently set the all-time U.S. record for the longest time spent in space by an astronaut. Given that they are identical twins, this gave scientists the opportunity to study in greater detail the effects of long-term living in space, down to even the genetic level. Scott’s differences were matched to Mark, who was used as a baseline.

Star Trek fan website TrekMovie quotes an interview with Mark Kelly, talking about his joining the panel of judges for the Roddenberry Prize.

“It’s obviously a good cause for me. I am somebody who is really into science and technology. It’s a good fit, but also kind of fun. I am really looking forward to reviewing these packages and scoring them.”

“Rewards in science, invention, and innovation take a long time. The Roddenberry Foundation prize is going to help people bring their projects to fruition. It’s a great thing for the legacy of Gene Roddenberry, who was a forward thinking individual and helped propel humanity into the future.”

Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek, And A Better Future

Gene Roddenberry created a futuristic universe from scratch. But, he had ideas and ideals in place for Star Trek from the very start. He wanted to tell stories that acted as metaphors, symbolically reflecting the current society of the 1960s. The action, science fiction, and adventure was used as a pretext for network executives and censors, hiding often troubling and divisive topics behind the shroud of imagination and escapism.

Gene Roddenberry in the 1940s, 70s, and 80s. [Image by Keystone Archive Photos/Getty Images; Space Frontiers/Getty Images; Ethan Miller/Getty Images]
Gene Roddenberry in the 1940s, 70s, and 80s. [Image by Keystone; Space Frontiers; Ethan Miller; Getty Images]

Star Trek has a lengthy record of encouraging others to strive for a better future. The widespread popularity of the franchise has inspired many to pursue a career in science, engineering, and technology. To cite just one interesting example: after a huge fan response via a mail-in campaign to NASA, the first space shuttle in the 1970s was named “Enterprise.”

'Star Trek: The Original Series.' [Image by Getty Images]
‘Star Trek: The Original Series.’ [Image by Getty Images]

Star Trek cast members have also promoted progress in science and technology. Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Uhura on the original Star Trek, worked with NASA to recruit more minorities and women. Robert Picardo, who played the holographic Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager, is now an advocate for The Planetary Society, an organization encouraging space exploration and education.

The reverse works as well: Mae Jemison, the first African-American female NASA astronaut, was interviewed by producer Byran Fuller as he developed the characters for the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery. It is believed her insights went into the creation of the leading character, rumored to be played by The Walking Dead star Sonequa Martin-Green.

Star Trek Beyond Gets Makeup Oscar Nomination

In other Trek news, the most recent movie for the franchise, Star Trek Beyond, was nominated for an Oscar for best makeup and hairstyling.

The 2009 Star Trek movie, the first in the latest reboot series, was also nominated in that same category – and won that year’s award. At least six of the past 13 Trek movies have gotten an Oscar nomination, usually in technical, effects, or makeup categories.

[Featured Image by Brian Ach/Getty Images]