New Book Reveals how NASA and the U.S. Military were Trek Fans and Gave the Original Series Crucial Support
Introducing Inspired Enterprise: How NASA, the Smithsonian and Others Helped Launch Star Trek
Nearly 56 years after Star Trek first aired it remains incredibly popular, with new iterations like Strange New Worlds, Picard, and Below Decks drawing legions of fans. It took a long time for the original series to establish its fan base – and a new book is set to reveal the important role of NASA, the U.S. Military, private aerospace companies and even the esteemed Smithsonian in keeping Star Trek going during its formative years. A new Kickstarter campaign aims to bring the full story to readers.
While doing archival research at NASA in the 1990s and 2000s, Glen E. Swanson, then chief historian at the Johnson Space Center, uncovered tantalizing evidence connecting NASA and Star Trek together throughout the 1960s. This information was not well known or widely publicized by either NASA or Star Trek. Later in his career Swanson turned to this intriguing link once more, learning that elite encouragement for the series went beyond just NASA to also include personnel and representatives from the U.S. military, aerospace companies, and even the Smithsonian Museum! Inspired Enterprise will reveal a never-before-told history of these influential partnerships.
Swanson has visited multiple archives, uncovering documents and photos that were unknown or, in some cases, entirely lost. He has interviewed many influential persons in the history of Star Trek, including family members whose stories bring a fresh perspective. He seeks travel funds for additional archival research and to cover licensing fees that will allow Inspired Enterprise to include never-before-published photos. At the time of this writing, the Kickstarter campaign is underway, and has achieved a little over one-sixth of its $12,000 goal. The Kickstarter ends June 28th.
Swanson’s NASA expertise makes this book unlike anything previously published. At NASA, he was responsible for digitizing recordings of the Apollo missions and for spearheading NASA’s oral history program. His book Before This Decade is Out: Personal Reflections on the Apollo Program won the Pendleton Prize. Swanson has written scores of articles about NASA and the space program, honing his skills as an investigator, archival researcher and interviewer to create a work that promises to ignite the imaginations die-hard Star Trek fans and delight aficionados of both spaceflight and television history alike.
Are you a fan of Star Trek? Do you want to know more about how the show was originally created and developed? Then you won't want to miss this exciting new book, Inspired Enterprise: How NASA, the Smithsonian and Others Helped Launch Star Trek. I'm a former Chief Historian for NASA's Johnson Space Center, and I used experience gained from conducting research and writing history for NASA to author a book that truly offers a fresh perspective on the creation of this iconic show.
In Inspired Enterprise, you'll discover how a small but highly influential group of people worked behind the scenes to convey a high level of credibility, respect, and authenticity that helped convince network executives to fund production of Star Trek for three full seasons. This was important because having three full seasons helped qualify the series for syndication. Once syndicated, Star Trek achieved immortality, creating legions of new fans who brought about its growth and popularity.
Notable individuals that worked behind the scenes to help get Star Trek noticed.The book covers a ten-year period from Star Trek's first network airing in 1966 through the show's phenomenal rise in popularity in syndication which was highlighted by the rollout of the first space shuttle in 1976 after a popular letter writing campaign organized by fans to have NASA rename its first true spaceship "Enterprise" after the show's iconic starship. Through its focus on this significant decade, the book presents new information about such behind-the-scenes notables as Harvey Lynn, the RAND scientist who was hired as the show’s first technical consultant; Kellam de Forest, who did script clearance and fact-checking that ultimately helped give us the Gorn and Stardates; and Stephen Whitfield, the nom de plume for Stephen Poe, who helped broker the deal that lead to the production of the first AMT Star Trek model kits and the writing of his best-selling book The Making of Star Trek.
While working in the archives of the Johnson Space Center in Houston on the Apollo Program, I first discovered information that showed just how much NASA was involved in the production of the original television series. Since then, I've been able to expand my research to bring the full picture into focus, including how the military (specifically the Navy and Air Force) and even the Smithsonian helped bring Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek to life. What I uncovered will surprise even the most knowledgeable fans of the franchise.
More than twenty years of research have gone into writing this book. I presented early findings in several articles, including one that appeared in the February/March 2021 issue of the Smithsonian's Air & Space Magazine and another as the cover story in the January/February issue of Michigan History Magazine, the publication of the Historical Society of Michigan. In addition, an article appeared online in The Space Review.
The overwhelmingly positive response I received from these initial published accounts encouraged me to delve even deeper into the subject, inspiring me to write a full-length book that would tell the complete story of how NASA, the Smithsonian, and other organizations and individuals played a vital role in the development of the original series.
This past fall, I secured a publisher and signed a contract. Since then, I have been busy writing and conducting interviews as well as gathering photos and securing permissions for their use. The manuscript is on schedule to be completed this fall and my publisher has promised to deliver a completed book sometime next year.
But this a huge project and I need your help to complete Inspired Enterprise.
Items available at various funding levels to encourage you to contribute.The money raised from this campaign will be used to fund additional archival visits I need to complete my research. Funds will also be used to pay licensing fees so that I can include some rare and unique photographs in my book, many of which have never before been published. Finally, by reaching my Kickstarter goal, I will be able to afford an advertising campaign to help promote the book upon its publication next year.
To encourage your participation, I am offering premium items at various levels of contribution. So if you're a fan of Star Trek and want to learn more about the show's creation and development, please support my Kickstarter campaign today and help Inspired Enterprise materialize.
As the founder of "Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly," Glen Swanson has been writing about the history of spaceflight for over 30 years.
Risks and challenges
Risks are minimal as the contract is in place with the publisher and the manuscript is well underway with everything due to be turned in to my editor by this fall. Baring any delays by the publisher, the book will be released in 2024. All of the premium rewards listed (except for the book itself) are in stock and available for shipment by the dates listed if I reach my funding goal.