Listen to William Shatner's wonderful space shuttle wake-up call

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:51 PM EST

The space shuttle Discovery is one day away from completing the final mission of its long and illustrious career, and the crew got a wake-up call from Capt. Kirk himself on Monday to commemorate it.

"These have been the voyages of the space shuttle Discovery," said William Shatner on a prerecorded message to the astronauts on Monday morning. "Her 30-year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before ..."

The sad irony of hearing the voice of one of pop culture's most famous fictional space explorers cannot have escaped the crew of the shuttle, which will be retired after it lands on Wednesday as part of the general winding-down of the entire space shuttle program.

Thirty-four years after it first began with the maiden voyage of a craft named, appropriately enough, Enterprise, the shuttle program will come to an end later this year, victim of the same budget woes that seem to affect everything in this country except for war and tax cuts for the wealthy.

When we should be looking outward—after all, the planet isn't going to be here forever, so we have to find a new pad eventually—we seem at the moment to be letting our imaginations turn inward. Perhaps, as Shatner once said so eloquently, we'll one day boldly go where no one has gone before. But in the meantime, let's salute the brave, brilliant crew of the Discovery and all the other space shuttles for making that dream briefly into a reality.

(via Hero Complex)