Nichelle Nichols, the late barrier-breaking actress who played Lt. Uhura in the TV original Star Trek and beyond, it will be part of an upcoming space mission.
Nichols died in July at age 89, but spaceflight memorabilia company Celestis Inc. will blast some of her cremated ashes and a sample of her DNA about 90 to 190 million miles into space aboard Enterprise Flight, the company announced Thursday. The rocket called Hephaestus It is currently scheduled to depart from Cape Canaveral, Florida later this year and leave the Earth-Moon system. According to a press release, Hephaestus will put Peregrine’s lunar rover “on an orbit for its rendezvous with the moon” and “the Centaur upper stage will then continue into deep space, entering an orbit around the sun, and become its most distant outpost of humanity, which will then be renamed the Enterprise Station.”
DNA from Nichols’ grown son, actor Kyle Johnson, will also make the trip. In fact, more than 200 flight capsules containing ashes, DNA and messages from loved ones will be included in the flight, which will launch atop United Launch Alliance. Hephaestus. Others who worked with Nichols on the sci-fi phenomenon and have since passed away will also be part of the mission: Journey Creator Gene Roddenberry and his actress wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who played nurse Christine Chapel in the original series. Actor James Doohan, who played Scotty in the show and movies. and visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
Ahead of the release, Nichols’ many fans can send her free tributes via the Celestis website. A digitized version of them will be taken as cargo.
“My only regret is not being able to share this eternal tribute, standing next to my mother at commencement,” Johnson told Celestis. “I know you would be deeply honored for this unique experience and I enthusiastically encourage ALL of her FANS to join us by contributing your thoughts, affections, memories, inspirational successes, dreams and aspirations via email that will start with her on this flight ! WOW!”
Nichols was one of the first black women to star in a major television show when Star Trek first aired in 1966. Her presence in prime time was so important that Martin Luther King Jr. himself asked her to stay on when they met at an NAACP event after that first season. She had actually planned to leave television for the stage, but reconsidered after speaking with the civil rights leader.
“He told me he was my biggest fan,” Nichols recalled in the 2018 documentary From the Bridge. “And he asked me to stay on the show — that I was a role model for black kids and women across America … He told me I couldn’t leave: that I was part of history.”
King was quoted as saying that Nichols and her character showed Black people “as we should be seen every day, as smart, quality, beautiful people who can sing and dance and go to space, who are teachers, lawyers ». Would a black man or a woman replace her?
Not only did she stay on the show, Nichols eventually partnered with NASA to help recruit women and people of color to apply.
The announcement of the launch into space containing her remains was accompanied by news that Nichols’ family had established the Nichelle Nichols Foundation to “inspire the next generation to aim for the stars and lead us closer to Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future”.