It’s been almost twenty years since I had the pleasure of producing a TV show with three-times Space Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane, featured here this short clip being interview on the set of “Inside Space” by host Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from the original “Star Trek” series). View the video clip. Mike is one of my favorite “professional celebrities” – brilliant, kind, and quite funny. I once asked him, “Mike, I know that 75% of what astronauts do in space is military related and very hush-hush. Could you tell me about some of it?” Mike (a former Marine) smiled at me and said, “Sure Larry, but then I’d have to kill you (to keep it secret).”
Nichelle Nichols, who hosted 13 episodes of the “Inside Space” TV series, is of course famous for sharing the first on-screen kiss between a black female and white male on American television with “Star Trek” co-star William Shatner (Capt. Kirk). That may not seem like such a big thing today – but it took great courage and Nichelle is a talented and courageous woman.
Little known fact – Nichelle didn’t just “play space”… she “did space”. From the late 1970s until 1987, Nichelle worked for NASA and led the charge for astronaut recruits and hopefuls, including Guion Bluford (the first African American male astronaut), Sally Ride (the first American female astronaut). Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison (the first African American female astronaut) said that she was inspired by Nichelle and the original “Star Trek” series.
Note: Mike Mullane’s interview was so inspiring that we asked him to fill in as host of “Inside Space” when Nichelle Nichols moved on to do other projects. Today, Mike is an author and travels the country as a motivational speaker. Check out his books, videos and next appearance.
I’m a little sad. The Space Shuttle program has come to an end. I grew up watching all the launches on TV (and was at the launch of Apollo 17 to the moon.) Perhaps my son or daughter will live to see U.S. launch its next group of astronauts to the moon and beyond on an American built spacecraft. I don’t expect that I will witness it in my lifetime.
How do you feel about the end of this era of space exploration?