The Impact of Star Trek on the Space Race and the Vietnam War Era

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"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before." (Star Trek original series intro) This is what started every episode of Star Trek, a famous television show. Star Trek is a science-fiction television series that was aired in the late 1960s that can be related to the space race and the Vietnam War.

Star Trek was a show that became popular in reruns after it was canceled. There was a large cast in the show. In the show, William Shatner plays James Kirk, Leonard Nimoy is Mr. Spock, James Doohas plays Montgomery Scott aka Scotty, Nichelle Nichols acts as Lieutenant Uhura, and George Takei plays Mr. Sulu, Majel Barret plays Christine Capel, Walter Koenig acts as Ensign Pavel Chekov, and Grace Lee Whitney plays Yeoman Janice. The famous television show aired on September 8, 1966. The show ended on September 2. 1969 (McNeil). It tackled many issues, such as relations among different beings, democracy, and the development of freedom. It tackled the development of freedom in the episode "The Apple." The beings on the planet that they found worshipped a god blindly and were taught not to think for themselves (Cantor). The show was set in the twenty-third century aboard the Starship Enterprise. All on the spaceship were commissioned by the Federation of Planets. They went on a five-year mission in order to seek new life and civilization (McNeil).

At the same time Star Trek aired, the Space Race was an important event that was going on during the late 1950s and 1960s. The United States made the Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo projects ("Space"). The space race was started so the United States could keep up with the Russian space programs 1957. The first human being to be in outer space was cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin in 1961. He was in outer space for one hour and forty minutes in the Vostok. In the same year, Alan B. Shepard went on a suborbital flight aboard Freedom 7. In 1962 John H. Glenn Jr. orbited the Earth three times aboard Friendship 7. Valeri F. Bykovsky orbited the Earth eighty-one times in the time span of five days. The cosmonaut performed this from June 14 to June 19 in 1963. In 1963 Valentina V. Tereshkova was the first woman to be in our space. Cosmonaut Alex Leanov was the first person to walk in space in 1965. In the same year, Edward H. White was the first American to walk in space. In 1967 people started to realize that the space race was dangerous. In America, Roger B. Chaffee, Gus Grissom, and Ed White were killed in takeoff. In Russia, Valentin M. Komarov was killed. The first people to walk on the moon were astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. When Niel Armstrong first stepped on the moon, he said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." When the two did this, they ended the space race in 1969 (Feinstein). Star Trek is relatable to the space race because Star Trek is similar to a space race in the future (Cantor). In Star Trek, the crew of the USS Voyager and the Malon were trying to build a spacecraft that would be able to withstand the atmosphere of a gas planet.

An event that happened at the same time as the Space Race was the Vietnam War. Vietnam lasted about two decades. The war killed above 58,000 Americans. Along with them being killed, millions of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians died. In the Vietnam War, Vietnam split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by communists, and South Vietnam was supported by the United States and France. When Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, he sent soldiers to help fight North Vietnam in the war gradually. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the war quickly became worse ("Vietnam"). Government power blossomed with Lyndon B. Johnson as president.

However, people were confused about our nation's leader's truthfulness. The people in America had different opinions about the war. Many people wanted the war to stop. Others thought that America should fight for honor. On January 31, 1968, the Tet Offensive was launched by the Communists in South Vietnam. South Vietnam went into chaos when the Tet Offensive hit them (Walsh). The Communists launched many attacks on the military bases and cities. They overtook the city of Hue for a couple of weeks. Vietnamese and American forces were able to regain the city of Hue on February 24, 1968. It is said that it was the bloodiest battle of the war ("Vietnam"). A United States victory wasn't in sight for the war, and many Americans wanted United States troops withdrawn (Walsh). President Nixon tried withdrawing troops, but he wasn't successful in negotiating a deal ("Vietnam"). Star Trek is related to the Vietnam War because the show alluded to it occasionally. In one episode, it was written to give some opinions on the war. There are also many other references to the show throughout many episodes (Cantor).

The Vietnam War left a huge impact, as did Star Trek. Star Trek left a legacy that will continue on for ages. The show wasn't popular when it first aired in 1966. The show finally became popular when it went into reruns. The show is still being enjoyed by people today. Many people today are interested in the show because of its big part in our culture. Almost everyone has at least heard of or seen a Star Trek movie or television show. The show also had many morals that were portrayed in it. In the episode "The Apple," they were being taught to worship a god blindly. Even though the characters of the show did not like interfering with other planets, they felt that it was necessary to show the inhabitants of the planet that they did not have to worship a god blinding. Another moral portrayed is that you shouldn't believe everyone. In one episode, the characters were told lies about who someone was. The show is very memorable and is remembered by a lot of people. This show is memorable because it was one of the first science fiction television shows; the show had interesting episodes that would keep audiences entertained. The show is still being remembered today. On Saturday Night Live, there was a parody based on Star Trek (Cantor). The show has many spin-offs created from it. The original series inspired Star Trek: The Next Generation and many movies such as Deep Space Nine (Feinstein). Movies such as Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, among others, show that Star Trek has a huge impact.

Star Trek was a famous science fiction television show. It aired in 1966 and was canceled in 1969 (McNeil). The Space Race and the Vietnam war were other events that were going on at the same time as the show. Star Trek has been and will be an important part of American culture for many years to come. "Live long and prosper" was one of the most memorable quotes from Mr. Spock.



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The Impact of Star Trek on the Space Race and the Vietnam War Era. (2023, Mar 11). Retrieved May 29, 2024 , from

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