NASA to William Shatner: 'Happy Birthday,' Captain Kirk

William Shatner on his motorcycle
William Shatner's 2005 motorcycle. (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

NASA joined the throngs of fans wishing "Star Trek" actor William Shatner a happy 80th birthday today (March 22) in the form of an online note to TV's original Capt. James T. Kirk.

"We want to wish happy birthday to @WilliamShatner -- someone who continues to boldly go!" NASA told Shatner via Twitter, where the space agency posts updates as @NASA. 

Shatner starred as the iconic captain of the starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" science fiction series that ran from 1966 to 1969. He reprised the role in seven of the franchise's 11 feature films.

To mark Shatner's birthday, the actor's website teamed up with and ThinkGeek for an online video contest for "International Talk Like William Shatner Day." The winner for best video will receive a gold command-color Star Trek robe.

"I wonder if I enter if I would win?" Shatner mused on his Twitter page.

NASA and "Star Trek" have a long history together. [Top 10 'Star Trek' Technologies Today]

The space agency's first space shuttle – which performed landing tests but never flew in space – was named Enterprise in honor of the U.S.S. Enterprise starship at the heart of the science fiction franchise. (V.S.S. Enterprise is also the name of the first private spaceship built by Virgin Galactic to fly space tourists on suborbital joyrides.)

The theme song from "Star Trek" was one of two winning tunes played as a wake-up call for astronauts this month during the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery. Shatner recorded a special version of the show's original opening for the event.  

Astronauts have even dressed up in Star Trek uniforms or recreated posters from the franchise's films as part of their outreach program. ['Star Trek' to Snoopy: NASA's Most Offbeat Posters]

Several actors from the original Star Trek series have recorded public service announcements for NASA, and real-life NASA astronauts have appeared on some of the franchise's subsequent incarnations like "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Enterprise."

Shatner currently stars in the CBS sitcom "$#*! My Dad Says."

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.