V’Ger salutes its creator: NASA hails Star Trek’s 50th anniversary

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NASA scientists are a practical bunch — after all, it takes discipline to get an unmanned spacecraft to its destination two planets over within one second of its ETA.

But these real-life space explorers also never have been shy about the debt they owe to Star Trek for inspiring them to pursue their chosen path. (The prototype space shuttle wasn’t christened Enterprise for nothing, and the next generation will feature a female lead who may be partly inspired by an astronaut herself inspired by the iconic show.) That’s why NASA has just released a video days ahead of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary on Sept. 8, in recognition of that golden jubilee and thanking the TV series’ extended family for their role in pushing the Final Frontier.

There’s no shortage of nerdy references in NASA’s nod to science-fiction history, among them a shout-out from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to V’Ger, a fictitious future Voyager probe that gets lost, achieves sentience and then returns to menace James T. Kirk “Unit” and crew in their first big-screen adventure, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Bonus points if you can spot what looks like a badass eagle crossing the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex in Florida at the 0:51 mark. “Magnify and enhance!” as they would say on the bridge.

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