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Trivia

Hard

The First Real Astronaut To Appear On Star Trek Was?

Yuri Gagarin
Neil Armstrong
Sally Ride
Mae C. Jemison
The official NASA portrait of astronaut Mae C. Jemison.
NASA

Answer: Mae C. Jemison

In 1993, a quiet sort of history was made: a link between the fantastic space travel represented on television and real-life space travel. For the first time ever, an actual traveled-to-space astronaut appeared on the iconic TV show Star Trek. In Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6, Episode 24 “Second Chances” (air date May 24, 1993), real-life NASA astronaut Mae C. Jemison appeared as a member of Star Fleet: Lt. Palmer.

The appearance came about thanks to a friendly connection with LeVar Burton, well-known for his role as the blind, but cybernetically-enhanced member of the crew Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge. Burton heard from a friend that Jemison loved the show and was interested in sneaking on as an extra. A few phone calls later, combined with the allure of having a real live astronaut sneak onto the ship’s roster for an episode, and a little bit of fun history was made.

An additional bit of trivia, and far more significant than a Star Trek cameo: Mae C. Jemison was the first African-American woman to travel into space (aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour for mission STS-47 in September 1992).

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