1986: "'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," (left to Right) Leonard Nimoy, (Spock), DeForest Kelley (McCoy), George Takei (Sulu), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), James Doohan (Scotty) and William Shatner (Kirk) / Photo By Bruce Birmelin/Paramount Pictures

William Shatner never became a real rocket man, but NASA did award the "Star Trek" actor with its Distinguished Public Service medal -- the highest award the agency can bestow on non-government personnel -- over the weekend. 

“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, said in a statement. “He's most deserving of this prestigious award.”

Shatner's relationship with NASA dates back to his "Star Trek" days, when references to the space agency were included throughout the series. In recent more years, Shatner narrated a NASA documentary celebrating the 30th anniversary of the space shuttle missions...

 

And a video preview of the Mars Curiosity mission...

 

According to the NASA statement, Shatner received the award at his Annual Hollywood Charity Horse show over the weekend. (Apparently, in addition to being a well-known fictional starship captain and Priceline representative, Shatner is also "an accomplished horse rider and breeder. ")