Kate Mulgrew is no stranger to portrayals of space travel. Having portrayed a starship captain on "Star Trek: Voyager," Mulgrew spent her fair share of time depicting the exploration of outer space through her role as the iconic Capt. Kathryn Janeway.
Nearly two decades later, the actress is crossing over from the world of science fiction to that of real-life history by retelling the story of humanity's biggest feat in real-life space travel thus far: the Apollo missions to the moon.
It was Mulgrew's experience navigating through space on TV that led to her role as the voice of "The Space Race," a new audiobook that provides an in-depth look at the leadup to establishing the Apollo program.
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"As you know, I'm a star captain, and I'm very drawn to all things scientific and competitive in space," Mulgrew told Space.com. "It's always invaluable to narrate something that teaches me."
The documentary-drama series uses archival material, original interviews and dramatic reconstruction to paint the full picture of the history behind Apollo, including the political race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to land astronauts on the lunar surface.
Packed into one-hour episodes, the series begins in the aftermath of the Cold War. It tells the history behind Russia's Sputnik, the first satellite to be placed into Earth's orbit; the U.S. launch of its first satellite, Explorer I, shortly after that; and the early establishment of United States' space program and Project Mercury (the country's first attempts to send a man into space).
"The Space Race'" also features conversations with Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Gene Cernan, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, British astronaut Tim Peake, and others involved in the space program.
Aside from reflecting on the past, "The Space Race" also looks toward the future of space travel in the new moon race, which now includes more private entities and other countries, such as China, Vietnam and Nigeria.
The series urges international collaboration and a sense of comradery in future space quests, whether they be returning to the moon or exploring Mars.
"Until we work as a cohesive group, as a collective, then we're not going to make strides," Mulgrew said.
The current state of space travel is muddled by political inadequacy, Mulgrew said. "I think we're in a little bit of a standstill, which is regrettable," she said. "There are rivalries everywhere — it has to stop. Something larger has to subdue this yearning and put that to rest."
As the first female captain on "Star Trek," Mulgrew said she also feels strongly about including more women in the space program. The audiobook begins with a prospective look at future missions to the moon, including the voice of a female astronaut as she touches down on the lunar surface in the year 2050.
"It's crucial," Mulgrew said. "Women are indispensable to this exploration."
NASA plans to land the first woman on the moon in 2024 as part of the agency's Artemis mission, named after the Greek goddess of the moon and Apollo's twin sister.
"Anything that represents itself as forward leaning is great," Mulgrew said. "[Having a woman on the moon] will be realized."
"The Space Race" was released July 20 by Audible, and you can purchase and listen to the book here.
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