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William Shatner, NASA SDCC Panel Separates Space Facts from Fiction

William Shatner is back on our screens, but not as a pretend space captain. This time, he's moderating a Comic-Con@Home panel filled with people who really go to space as well as NASA engineers and technology experts! Astronauts Nicole Mann and Kjell Lindegren join spacesuit engineer Lindsay Aitchison and technology expert LaNetra Tate as they all discuss the upcoming moon mission and more. They discuss building a habitat for the next man and woman on the Moon to reside and live in while on the next lunar mission in 2023 – the Artemis program. The Artemis missions are the next generation of space exploration, it's a "return to the moon for a sustainable, permanent presence," in the words of Lindegren.

From Space Fiction to Space Fact: SDCC NASA Panel w/ William Shatner (Screen Cap)
From Space Fiction to Space Fact: SDCC NASA Panel w/ William Shatner (Screen Cap)

In reality, this lunar presence is the first stepping stone on our journey to Mars. This presence is called Gateway and is an orbital outpost designed to sustain human presence for 30 days, and from there astronauts can leave and go down to the surface of the moon easily. Gateway will be controlled from Earth, which means they can control and change its orbits. Speaking of Gateway, on the ground at NASA they're developing ion propulsion- just like in the one they did on Spock's brain in that one episode of Star Trek. That brought it home for a lot of viewers who don't quite grasp all these technical terms, and that includes Captain Kirk himself.

The new space suits have been redesigned to be modular, which means a better fit for every single member of the astronaut corps. Movement is key, as space suits are generally cumbersome and difficult to maneuver in, but by adding bearings at the joints, it adds movement while maintaining the air-tight integrity of the suit. The future of NASA and space exploration was and still is still influenced and inspired by science fiction and the opportunities it showed – it inspired both astronauts on the panel, and in the words of Tate, "If you think about the sci-fi movies that we see now … our young generation, they're looking at that … and it's bringing to the space program."

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Eden ArnoldAbout Eden Arnold

Having spent far too much time in front of the television growing up, Eden has lots of opinions about television (as well as movies and everything else). She puts this to good use along with her journalism degree and writing experience with by-lines over the years in many print publications, books, and online media outlets. You can find her on Twitter at @Edenhasopinions
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