Reporting from the Library of Congress, where I am currently the Kluge Chair of Modern Culture, I visited this week with Margaret Weitekamp, curator of Space History at The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum. She curates the Museum's collection on the social and cultural dimensions of spaceflight collection, more than 4,000 artifacts that include space memorabilia and space science fiction objects, including the Enterprise scale model used in the production of Star Trek. She is also one of the hosts of a new online class about Star Trek and its influence on science and culture and the author of Right Stuff, Wrong Sex, about easy efforts to generate female astronauts. We discussed why the Smithsonian displays the Enterprise alongside the Apollo Lunar Module, how Hidden Figures might reshape how we think about Uhura’s place on the Enterprise, how Star Trek’s conception of Star Fleet’s mission shifts over time, and whether the first man on the moon was an American or a human accomplishment.
For more on Nichelle Nichols’ experiences as a black woman on board the Enterprise Bridge. check out this video.