When Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek 55 years ago, he built a show that had people from all backgrounds and experiences working together. The Star Trek creator sadly passed away in 1991, and today — August 19, 2021 — would have been his 100th birthday.
To celebrate Gene’s life, the Roddenberry Foundation and NASA got together to host a panel with George Takei and NASA representatives. The topic of this virtual event is to discuss the importance of Gene and Star Trek‘s IDIC philosophy — the Vulcan approach that emphasizes “infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” During the panel, which streams today at 2:00 P.M. EST, NASA will be transmitting Gene’s remarks on diversity and inclusion into space through its Deep Space Network of radio antennas.
/Film interviewed Rod Roddenberry, Gene’s son and CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, and NASA’s Director of the Office of Communications and Public Engagement, Hortense Diggs, about the collaboration and what they hope participants will get out of the event.
Star Trek and Diversity
The collaboration celebrates Gene Roddenberry’s commitment to diversity, and also calls for all of us to continue to work toward better inclusion. “I’m proud to have been part of that inspiring story, but our work to make it a reality isn’t done yet,” Takei said in a statement promoting the event. “I hope today’s celebration serves as a powerful reminder that we still need bright minds — like those at NASA — working to advance equity and justice.”
Rod Roddenberry and Diggs echoed Takei’s comments. “Personally, as a minority, I don’t think that we are there yet,” Diggs told /Film. “We’re not even where Gene was in my personal opinion. But I do see improvement since people are beginning to recognize that for so long, people have been disenfranchised because of the color of their skin, the way they look, the way they talk.”
“We as a species aren’t there yet,” Roddenberry agreed. “NASA, JPL, and the other agencies involved, a lot of them are making serious strides and efforts…they may not bet perfect, I’m not saying everything’s figured out. I’m just saying the positivity of what these agencies are doing in terms of really reaching out to everyone, regardless of their background social-economic status, skin color, etc. — they’re getting the best people for the job.”
Today’s panel goes more into these issues and more. It takes place at 2:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 am PST can will stream on NASA’s website and the Roddenberry Foundation’s Facebook page.
Potential Future Collaborations
While nothing is confirmed yet, Roddenberry hopes this won’t be the only collaboration between NASA and the Roddenberry Foundation. One hope he has is to put together something similar to Voyager’s golden record.
“We’re trying to talk about something like that, but the costs, the technology — so much money went into doing something like that,”Roddenberry said. “It was a cool idea that we’ve talked about, we’re continuing to talk about it. There’s a chance that won’t happen at all, but I think it would be neat to get the collective wisdom, consciousness, words, ideas, our perspectives and somehow send them out straight out into the universe. Even though the chances of alien life ever coming across something like that or I sure one in billions and trillions, it would still be a pretty spectacular thing to do.”
As for other hopes for the future, Roddenberry added that he hopes humanity’s space exploration efforts become a planetary affair. “I do think NASA is on its way to becoming the United Federation of Planets,” he said. “I’m hoping that when we finally make it to Mars, it’s not a U.S. flag we put on there — I hope it’s some sort of world flag. I really do.
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