Florida Today: George Takei, Buzz Aldrin share space tales at KSC

George Takei, Buzz Aldrin share space tales at KSC

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER — Live long, prosper and go to Mars. That was the message Saturday night at the Apollo 11 anniversary gala hosted by iconic “Star Trek” actor George Takei and legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Held underneath the rocket at the Apollo/Saturn V center, some of the biggest names in space and space culture challenged a crowd of about 250 people to “boldly go where no one’s gone.”

Takei spoke about inspiring and educating young people, to make the science-fiction of today a reality. He regularly referenced his cult TV show.

“As a person who worked on ‘Star Trek’ in the ’60s, we had some astounding science-fiction devices on the show, and we thought that was something that was absolutely impossible,” he said. Echoing Aldrin’s goal for space travel to Mars, Takei added, “we’ve gone beyond the science-fiction of the 1960s.”

The event raised funds for Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation.

Fellow “Star Trek” TV series star Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, was unable to attend (she was listed as a special guest star). Some of the evening’s special guests included Takei’s husband, Brad Altman, Sen. Thad Altman, shuttle astronauts Winston Scott and Terry Virts, and family members of Neil Armstrong. The evening featured a special message from William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk to Takei’s Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek” from 1966-69. Like Takei, Shatner’s message to Aldrin and everyone else? “Boldly go where no one has gone before. And live long and prosper.”

John Zarella, longtime CNN News correspondent, hosted a Q&A session with Takei and Aldrin. “It’s great to have the two of them here,” he said, “47 years for Apollo, 50 years for ‘Star Trek’ … It’s kind of cool.”

Zarella commended Takei’s social media following — he has 9.7 million Facebook fans and almost 2 million Twitter followers. “He’s very articulate and very outspoken about issues that he’s passionate about, and that’s a good thing. He has a platform and he uses it, and it’s great.”

Linn LeBlanc, executive director of ShareSpace Foundation, announced that at two years, the fairly new foundation has reached more than 50,000 children through workshops and partnerships.

“We’re going to raise a lot of money tonight to provide educational resources to teachers to excite them for science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” she said.

For more information on ShareSpace, call 321-783-6836 or visit sharespace.org.

Sangalang is FLORIDA TODAY’s entertainment reporter and Nerdgirl columnist. Contact Sangalang at 321-242-3630 or jsangalang@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @byjensangalang

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