Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lt. Mae Jemison: The Only Star Trek TNG Cast-Member Who’s Been to Space?

Given that she became a mission specialist on NASA’s STS-47 Space Shuttle mission back in September 12, 1992, is Lt. Mae Jemison the only Star Trek TNG cast-member who’s actually been to space?

By: Ringo Bones

Though James “Scotty” Doohan only experienced space travel posthumously, it seems like Lt. Mae Jemison is the only Star Trek: The Next Generation – or any Star Trek series – who actually been to space and returned safely to Earth. As a mission specialist on the STS-47 NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour back in September 12 to September 20, 1992, it seems like Jemison is by default the only space-faring Star Trek cast member. 

Born Mae Carol Jemison back in October 17, 1956, she cites Lt. Uhura as the one who inspired her to become an astronaut. Jemison obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1981 from Cornell Medical College – now Weill Medical College of Cornell University. After her medical education and a brief general practice, Jemison also served in the Peace Corps from 1985 to 1987 and then was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps after she was inspired by astronaut Sally Ride first mission back in 1983 and applied for NASA's astronaut corps.

Jemison was part of the first batch of astronauts that got accepted after the Challenger disaster. Even though she mentioned that she didn’t adjust to weightlessness well at first, but the view of the planet Earth from low earth orbit was worth is she says. 

In 1993, Jemison appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation after LeVar Burton – who plays Geordi LaFroge in the TV series - found out that she was a big Star Trek fan. She appeared as Lieutenant Palmer in the TNG episode titled Second Chances and Jemison has since gained the distinction as the only real astronaut to ever appear on Star Trek TNG.