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'Star Trek' Fan Film Recruits Real-Life Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in 'Voyager' Costume
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, the record-holder for the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman, joined on as a cast member in the fan project "Star Trek: Axanar." In April, she tweeted this photo posing in the International Space Station in a "Star Trek: Voyager"-style uniform. (Image credit: ESA/NASA)

After spending 199 days on the International Space Station, a European astronaut is readying for her next big mission: joining an independent "Star Trek" production.

Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut for the European Space Agency, will join the fan-produced film "Star Trek: Axanar" in an as-yet-undisclosed role, film officials said in a blog post. Cristoforetti was the first Italian woman in space during the space station's Expeditions 42 and 43, which wrapped up in June.

The news comes as the production wrapped up a crowdfunding campaign  that raised $487,076, nearly double the original goal of $250,000. Filming will begin in early 2016.

"Star Trek: Axanar" follows the story of Garth of Izar, a character who was introduced in the "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode "Whom Gods Destroy." Garth's story takes place about 21 years before the events of the first "Star Trek" episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before."

The new, full-length film will follow from a 20-minute crowdfunded prelude that was released last year. Stars in the feature-length film include Richard Hatch, Kate Vernon (both of "Battlestar: Galactica"), Gary Graham ("Star Trek: Enterprise") and Tony Todd ("Candyman", "Chuck", "24"). It is led by Executive Producer Alec Peters.

After a crowdfunding campaign last year on Kickstarter that raised more than $600,000, the filmmakers have decided to break the feature-length film into four episodes costing at least $250,000 each.

The base goal for the work is $1 million, but the filmmakers need at least $1.32 million in total to cover costs from using the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, which takes a cut of projects funded on its site, as well as "ongoing studio costs" and "payment processing," according to the Indiegogo page.

Cristoforetti wouldn't be the first astronaut to appear on Star Trek. In 1993, NASA astronaut Mae Jemison played a small role on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+. Original article on

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.