Wagon Train To The Stars was supposedly a working title for what became Star Trek. The Western was always an influence on the show and its spin-offs, implicitly (space was ‘the final frontier,’ after all) and even explicitly (Kirk and some of his crew were forced to play the losing side in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in one episode of the first series, the “Old West” was called the “Ancient West” in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise focused on a town of humans taken from 19th century America to a distant planet.)
I was reminded of this when reading about a recent workshop co-sponsored by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Science and Entertainment Exchange, and the Museum of Science Fiction (H/T Gizmodo). Titled “Homesteading in Space – Inspiring The Nation Through Science Fiction” the event took place in early February in Los Angeles and was focused in part on how to use science fiction to develop inspiring visions of ‘homesteading’ in space. While there were panels discussing the underlying science and technology necessary to make these future homesteads a reality.
(I’ve not been able to find anything about the event on the White House website, but in 2014 OSTP Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation Tom Kalil posted about building a spacefaring civilization. That post, however, was focused more on the technical challenges involved. Perhaps something is forthcoming?)
So, will some enterprising (pun intended) creative types develop engaging new stories that show how humans may eventually forge a life out in the solar system? I’m not sure that the Star Trek television show currently under development will stick that close to Earth, but I’d be surprised if was missing the frontier spirit of exploration that its forbears captured and OSTP wants to borrow.