'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."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace