Awesome Con Recap: William Shatner Talks NASA, Science, and Yes, ‘Star Trek’

William Shatner passed through Washington, D.C., over the weekend for Awesome Con. The actor who shaped the role of Captain Kirk on the original “Star Trek” series took what I would call a “unique” angle on his panel; he opened up with a discussion of NASA and quantum physics.

William Shatner Answers Questions at Awesome Con 2015. Photo: Pat Cuadros

William Shatner Answers Questions at Awesome Con 2015. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Oh, and a brief mention of UFOs. He pointed out one that flew over the heads of the audience. It turned out to be an unfortunate bird that fluttered into the conference hall. “The Klingons sent that bird to spy on us!” he exclaimed to the crowd, which erupted with laughter.

Epic fail of empty seats by Awesome Con at the Shatner panel. These sections should have gone to the General Admission attendees. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Epic fail of empty seats by Awesome Con at the Shatner panel. These sections should have gone to the General Admission attendees. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Shatner drew a connection between “Star Trek,” government spending, and NASA’s rocket programs. He enumerated that when rockets were sent up (and fell quickly) in the early days of NASA, ratings for “Star Trek” would go up. Such increases were also associated with Congressional votes to give more money to NASA. As a result, NASA really liked (and probably still has a lot of love for) the show. The agency even went so far as to play a joke on Shatner with a screen of what astronauts see (a simulation of sorts), a field into which a model of the Starship Enterprise crossed.

The panel didn’t leave much in the way of time for questions from fans and even ended early. However, Shatner does deliver on recounting some interesting stories, such as the NASA tale above. It remains to be seen whether he will have more involvement in the “Star Trek” films. He admitted to being shocked at seeing Zachary Quinto’s Spock kissing Uhura (Zoe Saldana). “Captain Kirk kisses the girl!” Shatner protested.

He also shared a few moving remarks on his late friend and former co-star, Leonard Nimoy. Shatner attended a charity event and did not make it to Nimoy’s funeral, as some of you may already know. “People fade from memory,” he emphasized, but what will always remain are the good and charitable actions that we do for others. And that’s a memorable lesson to round out the afternoon.

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