comScore NASA Scientist Blames Star Trek For Some Space Failures | The Mary Sue

NASA Scientist To Star Trek: “You’re Not Helping”

Dammit Jim!


Although NASA has helped Star Trek through the years, whether stylistically or through astronauts making cameo appearances, not everyone involved with the agency thinks the universe of the franchise. In fact, there’s one former scientist who thinks Star Trek is NASA’s worst enemy. 

The comments come from former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace, director of space policy at George Washington University, partly in response to North Korea’s recent rocket crash.

“Anybody can make something go boom. Controlling it is hard,” he said.

But it’s not just the North Korean mishap the article cites. The Star Tribune writes:

In 1986, the fiery power of the space shuttle Challenger burned through an O-ring seal and seven astronauts died.

Other control problems have doomed spaceships. Aerodynamics — keeping the pointy end straight up — is key. If a rocket veers too much it just breaks apart, said Jonathan McDowell of Harvard University.

New countries launching rockets generally fail half the time, he said. John Glenn recalled how NASA’s first astronauts watched in horror as an Atlas rocket blew up in front of them. More recently, private U.S. company SpaceX failed on its first three Falcon 1 launch attempts before finally succeeding twice. Even the normally reliable Russians couldn’t get a rocket to Mars last fall because of a post-launch failure that ended up with the spaceship on board falling back to Earth.

So why is Pace placing the blame on Star Trek?

“In many ways, the worst enemy of NASA is Star Trek,” he said. “Captain Picard says ‘engage’ and the ship moves. And people think ‘How hard can this be?'”

Regular people, maybe. But are educated scientists, working on space missions or devices really under the assumption that it’s a simple job because of a sci-fi television show? Kind of a stretch if you ask me.

(via Blastr)

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."