- Thursday October 22 2020
- 50th Anniversary
#SCI50th: As we celebrate 50 years of inspiration and impact at the Science Center of Iowa, we are sharing stories and memories of how SCI was established, grew and continues to serve the next generation. View the timeline and stories at www.sciowa.org/50th
"We can now not only show you a planet in the heavens, we can actually take you there."
It only seems right that Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek fame cut the ribbon at the Sargent Space Theater’s reopening on September 4, 1989.
And he celebrated the newest technology in the science center -- a Digistar, a computer-generated device that projected a three-dimensional image onto the theater dome.
It’s hard to figure out how he got to the ribbon cutting, though, considering the fictional Kirk won’t officially be born in Riverside, Iowa, until March 22, 2228.
William Shatner, the actor who plays Kirk in Star Trek was there to reveal the state-of-the-art Digistar Projection System.
The graphics system was developed specifically for planetariums, and in 1989, it was one of only 10 in the world. At the time, the $600,000 project was the single largest undertaking by the science center since it opened in 1970.
"The images it projects are revolutionary," SCI’s PR Director Jack Jones told the Urbandale News at the time. "We can now not only show you a planet in the heavens, we can actually take you there, and let you look back at mother Earth."
After cutting the ribbon at the Sargent Space Theater, Shatner delivered a keynote address to guests at a VIP dinner at the science center that evening.
While the night was filled with fun, it certainly wasn’t Shatner's first or last trip to Iowa.
He first came to the state in the late 1960s to shoot some scenes for Star Trek. He came back in 2004 to film a television show called “Invasion Iowa" and then again in 2015 for the Wizard World Comic Con at the Iowa Events Center.
While Kirk won’t officially be an Iowan for another 208 years, Shatner seems to have found a second home here, nonetheless.
*Information was provided by The Urbandale News and the Des Moines Register.