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What does ‘Ad Astra Per Aspera’ mean? ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ title, explained

The Latin phrase serves as the title for season two's second episode.

Image via Paramount Plus

Most Trekkies out there would tell you that, barring the original series and Next Generation, Strange New Worlds is the best Star Trek offering yet.

The series abandons the darker, grittier tones of many recent Star Trek releases, and instead returns to the largely episodic — despite a consistent overall arc — format, with a far more lighthearted and hopeful feel throughout. With season two officially airing, and its second episode fresh on fans’ minds, non-Latin speakers have a vital question about episode two’s title.

What does ‘Ad Astra Per Aspera’ mean?

Strange New Worlds rewinds the Star Trek timeline a bit, following in the footsteps of its predecessor Discovery. This makes sense, as Strange New Worlds is a spin-off of Discovery, which initially took place a decade before the events of the Original Series, and Strange New Worlds is nestled in the same timeframe.

The series follows the crew of Captain Christopher Pike in the decade before Captain Kirk’s adventures begin, and features several iconic returning characters. Pike himself is a beloved staple of the Star Trek story, and he’s brought to brilliant life in Strange New Worlds by Anson Mount. He is joined by fresh — and somehow stellar, despite the competition — Spock actor Ethan Peck and Celia Rose Gooding as a youthful, still-learning version of Nyota Uhura. That’s not the mention the thrilling season two crossover with animated Star Trek favorite Lower Decks, which took fans by storm.

The second episode of Strange New Worlds‘ second season leans on an age-old Latin phrase that fittingly links back to the stars. The episode, which is titled “Ad Astra Per Aspera,” translates to “through hardship, to the stars.” There are a few twists on this translation, all of which mean the same general thing, including “a rough road leads to the stars” and “to the stars through hardship.”

The phrase “as astra” has roots in Roman poet Virgil’s Aeneid, which has a line that reads “sic itur ad astra,” or “thus one journeys to the stars.” A few other poets and philosophers also incorporated the phrase into works in the same general time period, with Seneca the Younger also earning at least some credit for the popular phrase.

These days, it crops up with some frequency in sci-fi stories like Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series, and occasionally in popular shows like Star Trek. The phrase was a fitting title for episode two of the show’s already-stellar second season — but I won’t spoil the story here. You’ll have to head over to Paramount Plus and enjoy the series for yourself.

Nahila Bonfiglio
About the author

Nahila Bonfiglio

Nahila carefully obsesses over all things geekdom and gaming, bringing her embarrassingly expansive expertise to the team at We Got This Covered. She is a Staff Writer and occasional Editor with a focus on comics, video games, and most importantly 'Lord of the Rings,' putting her Bachelors from the University of Texas at Austin to good use. Her work has been featured alongside the greats at NPR, the Daily Dot, and Nautilus Magazine.