Primitive Culture 29: NASA/Trek / by Trek fm

Starfleet and the US Space Agency.


Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes 58 seconds
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When The Original Series debuted in 1966, the Apollo program was in full swing, although it wasn’t until after the show’s final episode aired three years later that humans landed on the moon. In the succeeding years, NASA and Star Trek became increasingly interdependent. Real-world space history and technology was referenced on screen, and an army of Trek fans gradually scored jobs at the space agency. When the time came to name the first space shuttle, the relationship came full circle as President Ford bowed to public pressure and christened the orbiter Enterprise.

In this episode of Primitive Culture, hosts Duncan Barrett and Clara Cook trace the complex and sometimes fraught relationship between NASA and Star Trek over the course of half a century. We consider Constance Penley’s controversial book NASA/Trek, which argues that the space agency fed off the more popular television franchise as a way of bolstering its own waning popularity, and discuss the role of disaster management and public relations in NASA’s history—both real and imagined. We also look at the shift in Star Trek’s handling of NASA from the 1990s onwards, and the importance of “futuristic nostalgia” from First Contact to Enterprise.


Intro (00:00:00)
TOS and the Apollo Program (00:12:15)
Ground Control to Major Tom Paris (00:21:00)
The Motion Picture Era and Murderous Space Probes (00:29:27)
NASA/Trek and Disaster Management (00:49:16)
1990s Trek and Futuristic Nostalgia (01:09:10)
Enterprise (01:21:10)
Discovery (01:34:13)
Final Thoughts (01:42:54)


Duncan Barrett and Clara Cook


Clara Cook (Editor) Duncan Barrett (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) [name] (Associate Producer) Tony Black (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)