by Charlene Anderson
Graphic designer Mike Okuda is getting a NASA medal and he deserves it.
It's the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal, described on the NASA web site as: "The highest honor NASA awards to anyone who was not a Government employee when the service was performed. 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."
Those extraordinary contributions include designing the mission patches for several NASA programs and missions, including the recent STS-125 mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. As a graphic designer who's worked mostly in Hollywood, Mike was able to add great style and fizz to the patches that commemorate NASA's voyages of exploration.
But Mike is best known to the world as the graphic art supervisor on most of the Star Trek films and television series. In the official words of Startrek.com, "he was responsible for control panels, signage, alien written languages, computer readout animation, and many other strange things."
If there's ever a Planetary Society Medal for Most Dedicated Member, Mike might be in line for that, as well. For more years than I care to count, Mike has given his time, expertise and assorted artifacts to help advance the mission of our organization. Some Planetary Society Members might recall being recruited by Mike and his wife, Denise, at Star Trek conventions, where they put in long hours explaining how, by joining the Society, you can help make possible the future so dazzlingly imagined in the Star Trek universe.
So, congrats, Mike!
For more on Mike's award, check out this Wired article.