By Sarah Dean
He's already a universal icon for his role as Captain Kirk in hit sci-fi series Star Trek.
And now William Shatner has become closer to an astronaut than he ever could have imagined.
The 83-year-old has been awarded Nasa's Distinguished Public Service medal, the space agency's highest award for civilians.
The Canadian actor, who played Captain James Tiberius Kirk in Star Trek from 1966 to 1969, has been recognised for his support of science education and space exploration.
'William Shatner has been so generous with his time and energy in encouraging students to study science and math, and for inspiring generations of explorers, including many of the astronauts and engineers who are a part of Nasa today, ' David Weaver, Nasa's associate administrator for the Office of Communications at Nasa Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.
The star was awarded the prestigious honour on Saturday night in Los Angeles, becoming the first Star Trek cast member to receive the award.
Shatner accepted a medal from the US space agency, which reads: 'For outstanding generosity and dedication to inspiring new generations of explorers around the world, and for unwavering support for NASA and its missions of discovery.'
Shatner, who believes in alien life and is currently working on a book about UFOs, has a history of involvement with Nasa projects, including recording a wake-up call for the astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 2011. . . .
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