One of the most exciting things about science fiction, and one of the reasons that it attracts so many fans, is the way in which it so often offers a glimpse into a future that could potentially come true. To paraphrase Jane Foster in Thor, science fiction is often a precursor to science fact. Admittedly we might still be a few years (alright, a couple of centuries) from zipping all over the galaxy and encountering a multitude of alien races, according to the Star Trek timeline anyway, but human beings made the first giant leap into space decades ago and a handful of our number are currently boldly living where few men have gone before.
Namely, the astronauts of the International Space Station, which currently houses a six-person expedition and serves as a laboratory for experiments in microgravity and a space environment. The ISS might not be quite as advanced as the fictional USS Enterprise, but it's still a fascinating construction that many people would love to explore.
In order to examine the gap between the science fiction of Star Trek Into Darkness and the science fact of NASA's current equipment and latest advances, a video chat between producer Damon Lindelof, director J.J. Abrams, cast members Chris Pine, Alice Eve and John Cho, ISS astronaut-in-residence Chris Cassidy and astronauts Michael Fincke and Kjell Lindgren from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, will all get together for a 45-minute Google+ video chat, on the official Google+ NASA site, at 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. PST on Thursday May 16th, 2013.
You can submit a question to any or all of the participants by using the #askNASA hashtag on Twitter, Google+, Youtube or Instagram (video questions are now closed) or by leaving a question on the official Star Trek Into Darkness Facebook page. You can also submit questions during the event.
Barring any technical issues that might result from beaming down messages from space in real time on the Google+ Hangout platform, it's incredibly cool to think of the actors behind Kirk, Carol Marcus and Sulu virtually getting together with the modern-day, real-life predecessors to their characters, and fans who are heavily into the science side of Star Trek's science fiction won't want to miss this insight into what life is like in low orbit - and what life in outer space could be like.
Will this event match the grandeur of ISS astronaut Chris Hadfield doing a live duet with the Barenaked Ladies? You'll have to tune in to find out.
Star Trek Into Darkness is out in theaters worldwide right now. Read the Star Trek Into Darkness review to find out if it's worth watching, or join in the spoilers discussion if you've already seen it.