Astronaut Shares Touching Tribute To Leonard Nimoy From Space Station

The iconic salute quickly spread online following news of Nimoy's death.

American astronaut Terry Virts recently shared a touching tribute to actor Leonard Nimoy, releasing a photo of himself directing the Vulcan salute from the International Space Station towards the place of Nimoy’s birth.

Virts, 47, released the image on Twitter on Saturday, according to the New York Daily News. In the photo, Virts’ left hand can be seen, raised in the iconic salute, which he directed toward the east coast of the United States. To the right of his hand lies Massachusetts, the state in which Leonard Nimoy was born. Underscoring the poignancy of the image, Virts wrote no caption for his Nimoy tribute.

Nimoy’s iconic gesture from the original Star Trek series is recognized around the world by fans, though many are unaware that its origins run far deeper than the sci-fi show. In recent years, Nimoy explained that the Vulcan salute was inspired by his childhood in Boston, where he attended an Orthodox Jewish synagogue. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, Nimoy was captivated by the gesture, which was used as a form of blessing. Representing the shape of the Hebrew letter shin, the salute is tied to the first letter of several Hebrew words, including Shaddai (one of the names of God), and Shalom (hello, goodbye, and peace).

Virts’ salute wasn’t the only tribute to Nimoy to come from NASA, as the Verge points out. NASA administrator Charles Bolden released a statement, honoring the iconic actor whose character, Mr. Spock, inspired many at the space agency.

“Leonard Nimoy was an inspiration to multiple generations of engineers, scientists, astronauts, and other space explorers,” he noted. “As Mr. Spock, he made science and technology important to the story, while never failing to show, by example, that it is the people around us who matter most.”

Earlier this week, Virts experienced his own drama while on a mission outside the International Space Station. Last Wednesday, and again on Sunday, water pooled in the astronaut’s helmet while he was conducting a spacewalk to work on the station’s robotic arm. As CNN notes, NASA’s space station managers have expressed a high degree of confidence in the suit, and the water leak is a known issue.

Other tributes to Leonard Nimoy have surfaced in the media, yet the unique nature of a salute from the space station assured that it spread quickly across the internet.

[Image: Twitter/ @Astroterry via the New York Daily News]