PASADENA — More than four decades after floating among the stars on the American sci-fi hit “Lost in Space,” actress and longtime Santa Monica resident June Lockhart has been honored by NASA for her impact on space exploration.
Lockhart, 88, received the agency’s Exceptional Public Achievement Medal last month at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. The award is given to non-government individuals who have made significant public contributions to NASA throughout their careers.
“This is extraordinary — I’m so delighted,” Lockhart said.
Alongside “Big Bang Theory” producer Bill Prady and American conductor Emil de Cou, she is the third entertainer to receive the medal, but just the first actress to do so.
“She’s been a really great rousing cheerleader for the agency and space exploration in general,” said NASA multimedia liaison Bert Ulrich. “We wanted to return our gratitude by giving her this award.”
Aside from starring on the 1960s CBS series as the mother of the space-wandering Robinson family, Lockhart has long been a volunteer spokesperson for NASA. Since the ‘70s, she has made many public appearances and service announcements for the organization, been a part of countless mission liftoffs and befriended scores of astronauts.
“I have so many friends among the astronaut group saying that watching ‘Lost in Space’ when they were little boys made them know what they wanted to do,” she said. “It’s astonishing that it inspired so many people, but it’s lovely to know that.”
As of next month, Lockhart will have spent 80 years in the entertainment industry. Among her professional accolades are a 1948 “Outstanding Performance by a Newcomer,” Tony Award and two “Best Actress” Emmy nominations. Her extensive list of appearances includes starring roles on television classics “Lassie” and “Petticoat Junction” as well as guest spots on modern favorites like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
A Santa Monica resident for 26 years, Lockhart is highly involved in the community. Along with being a leader of her local neighborhood association, she is also outspoken in her support for the Santa Monica Mounted Posse, a unit of officers and horses that has served the city since 1930.