Mike Okuda to be honored by NASA!

When I worked on TNG, I spent most of my free time doing two things: painting Warhammer 40K miniatures, and hanging out in the art department.

I loved the art department. From the very first time I walked into their workspace, Mike Okuda and Rick Sternbach let me look at their sketches, geek out about the science part of science fiction, and gave me a place to go every day where it was okay to be a huge nerd who loved science and design.

They became my friends, and like my other cow-orker Guy Vardaman (who was my stand-in), they nurtured my geeky side so much, I was never "at risk" like other teenage actors who bought into the myth that all young actors should party their lives away in Hollywood night clubs.

I just saw this on Doug Drexler's blog:

Michael Okuda has been selected
to receive one of NASA’s highest honors; the NASA Exceptional Public
Service Medal. “The award is granted only to individuals whose
distinguished accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA
mission. The contribution must be so extraordinary that other forms of
recognition would be inadequate.” Mike and Denise will be going to the
Johnson Space Center next month to the NASA Honor Awards Ceremony. Go Hot dog! GO!

WOW! Congratulations, Mike. This is an award that is richly deserved.

21 thoughts on “Mike Okuda to be honored by NASA!”

  1. I don’t want to diminish the work of the actors, but Mike Okuda and the special effects/art folks were as much stars of Star Trek as the actors or the plot. Thousands of little touches that often were barely seen for a fraction of a second, yet the care and attention to each one is what made the whole great.
    I think it is particularly fitting that NASA is extending this honour, given the influence science fiction has on the minds and imaginations of so many scientists.

  2. That is the coolest! I always admired that Mike and Rick didn’t just make crap up. They always had a scientific basis for what they did and even things like LCARS were feasible concepts. That they combined science with artistic beauty was just the most amazing thing to me. Congrats to Mike!! And thanks, Wil, for linking the info!

  3. Interesting update to my previous comment- I see that Mr. Okuda also did a lot of work for NASA in terms of creating mission logos. It was right there, plain as day on his Wikipedia page, but I guess in my mind it was overwhelmed by his body of work on Star Trek.

  4. That’s awesome he’s being recognized by NASA for his extraordinary talent and dedication!! Now, is there also an award for helping keep Wil Wheaton from becoming an “at risk” teenage actor? There should be 😉

  5. Wow. I geeked to the Star Wars Sketchbook when i was 6. If I had the time and opportunity to be hang out in art with Mike & Rick, I would have NEVER had any doubts about doing commercial or industrial art in college.

  6. That is totally awesome! After watching the behind the scenes stuff from the Season 1 DVD, it really never occurred to me until then that the people in the art department did most of this stuff by hand because CGI wasn’t what it is today and the show was on a tight budget. It made me respect those guys so much more because of all of the effort they put into all the detail work that went into making the show look so authentically futuristic.
    Congrats to Mike! I have the Next Gen Technical Manual, so I know that he was a technical adviser, and made sure the continuity was kept in check, among other things, sort of like a Jack of all Trades in the Star Trek universe. He also designed a great deal of graphics for NASA, so this award truly is deserved and long overdue for him. It’s great that he’s getting recognition for his work.
    My hat goes off to Mike and everyone else in the art department for the all the fantastic work that they did to make us all believe that we were exploring strange new worlds and seeking seeking out new life-forms on board the Enterprise with you guys. They took us on one heck of a journey!

  7. Absolutely inspirational. Go, Mike and Denise, GO!
    Always loved the Okudagrams, as they just simply made a lot of sense – as any UI ought!

  8. Mike Okuda will now follow one of the great recepients of the Distinguished Public Service Medal, who is Gene Roddenberry. In 1993 The Creator of Star Trek was posthumously awarded the award, But there is a difference in Mikes obtaining the award!

  9. Their work pretty much defined the look and feel of Next Gen, so congratulations to Mr. Okuda on a well deserved award. And I am still waiting for an OS with those incredibly cool Okudagrams.

  10. When I was younger, I bought the TNG Tech manual written by Mike and Denise Okuda. Recently my wife and I had our first baby who we named Orion. I found out a few weeks ago that NASA is naming their new manned space program the Orion Project and that Michael Okuda designed the official NASA patch for the project. Needless to say, we ordered it immediately!

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