For years actor William Shatner played the swashbuckling space hero, Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the mega popular Star Trek franchise, and now he can boast an award from the U.S. space agency NASA.
Shatner was awarded the Distinguished Public Service medal, the highest award bestowed by the agency to non-government personnel on Saturday during his annual charity event in Los Angeles.
According to the citation, the award is presented for “outstanding generosity and dedication to inspiring new generations of explorers around the world, and for unwavering support for NASA and its missions of discovery.”
“Words cannot express my thoughts on being recognized by @NASA,” wrote Shatner on his Twitter feed
Shatner has a long history with NASA.
The first space shuttle, Enterprise, was named to honor the popular television show and movie series, according to NASA.
Shatner also voiced a NASA documentary marking 30 years of space shuttle missions, and during the final flight of shuttle Discovery, the actor recreated the famous introduction of the television series to wake up the crew.
In 2012, Shatner hosted a video about the Curiosity rover’s mission to Mars.
“William Shatner has been so generous with his time and energy in encouraging students to study science and math, and for inspiring generations of explorers, including many of the astronauts and engineers who are a part of NASA today, ” said David Weaver, NASA’s associate administrator for the Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters in Washington in a statement
. “He's most deserving of this prestigious award.”
Shatner’s Captain Kirk character made the actor a household name. The television series ran only three years, from 1966 to 1969. Shatner reprised the character for seven Star Trek movies from 1979 to 1994.
Past recipients of the award include astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, former NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory director and Voyager project scientist Edward Stone, theoretical physicist and astronomer Lyman Spitzer, and science fiction writer Robert Heinlein.