NASA honored William Shatner, Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk, the highest civilian award over the weekend. Yes, Captain Kirk was a fictional character portrayed in one of the most revered TV series of all time and several films, but the man behind the Captain’s log has also made significant waves in real life space promotion. Unlike his popular successor Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard), who allegedly grew annoyed with his Star Trek fame, Shatner embraced it.
Shatner isn’t by any means the greatest actor in the world, being among the first to make the world realize he plays the same character every time. It was especially noticeable in his role from T.J. Hooker, where he was always the best at everything. At least on Star Trek, he had Leonard Nimoy‘s Spock to knock him down a notch and question illogical choices.
Despite his corny acting and often imitated speech patterns, the NASA honored William Shatner didn’t mind the celebrity surrounding him at all. He even promoted his role as the Star Trek Captain decades after the series ended, with rumors that he tried to get a cameo in the J.J. Abrams reboot. He once had a debate with Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher over which space property was better, and he willingly admitted his defeat, even if the fans didn’t.
Shatner even promoted the disappointing video game tie-in to the last Star Trek movie by reenacting his famously ridiculous fight with the Gorn, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
David Weaver, NASA’s associate administrator for the Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington, had this to say about the first man to command the USS Enterprise:
“William Shatner has been so generous with his time and energy in encouraging students to study science and math, and for inspiring generations of explorers, including many of the astronauts and engineers who are a part of NASA today. He’s most deserving of this prestigious award.”
NASA honors William Shatner for his “outstanding generosity and dedication to inspiring new generations of explorers around the world, and for unwavering support for NASA and its missions of discovery.”
It wasn’t just Star Trek that Shatner promoted with his well-known persona. He was also given hosting privileges for the Mars Curiosity landing (above), showing that his interest in space exploration soars beyond his fictional persona.
The actor’s own Hollywood Charity Horse Show, which he uses to promote causes and help children who ordinarily might not get it, was where NASA honored William Shatner for his contribution toward science, on this planet and beyond. Many simply play the role, but Shatner lived it.