The ashes of “Star Trek” legend Nichelle Nichols are to be sent into space on the volcanic rocket Aumag
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The ashes of the late “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols will boldly go where few have gone before when she is sent into space aboard a historic Enterprise flight later this year.
Nichols, known for playing the legendary Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in all three seasons of the original broadcast from 1966-1969, died July 31. She was 89 years old.
Launching later this year aboard United Launch Alliance’s aptly named Vulcan rocket, Nichols will live long and thrive under the stars through Celestis Inc., a leader in commemorative aerospace.
Nichols’ estate will join ‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991, and his late wife and ‘First Lady of ‘Star Trek” Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who died in 2008.
DNA of Star Trek actor James Doohan, who died in 2005, who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, and visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, who died in February, will also be included in the mission to celebrate the unique Star Trek reunion flight.
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“We are truly honored to add a legendary actress, activist and educator to Enterprise Flight’s manifesto,” said Charles M. Chafer, co-founder and CEO of Celestis Inc., in a press release.
“Now our Enterprise flight will have on board the person who most fully embodied the vision of Star Trek as a diverse, inclusive and exploratory universe.”
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The flight is expected to fly between 150 and 300 million kilometers into space and beyond the Earth-Moon system.
Also on the mission, Nichols will be joined by his son, Kyle Johnson, who will submit his DNA so he can embark on this journey with his mother.
“My only regret is not being able to share this eternal tribute alongside my mother at launch,” Johnson said.
“I know she would be deeply honored for this unique experience and enthusiastically encourages all of her fans to join us vicariously by contributing their thoughts, feelings, memories, NN-inspired achievements, dreams and aspirations via email, to start with her on this flight! IMPRESSIVE!” Johnson said in a statement.
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Fans are encouraged to submit their names and tributes to Nichols as part of a global public memorial page on enterprise-flight.com, which can then be digitized and shipped with her.
Also via Celestis, 200 flight capsules carrying cremated remains, messages and DNA samples from customers around the world will take part in the endless interplanetary space journey.
Nichols broke down barriers for black women in Hollywood and championed space programs as NASA’s Chief Recruiting Officer.
“Nichelle Nichols was a breakthrough actress, attorney, and dear friend of NASA. At a time when black women were rarely seen on screen, Nichelle’s portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek held up a mirror to a civil rights America. Nichelle’s advocacy went beyond television and transformed NASA,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a press release.
“After Apollo 11, Nichelle made it her mission to inspire women and people of color to join this agency, change the face of STEM and explore the cosmos. Michelle’s mission is NASA’s mission. Today, as we work to send the first woman and first black person to the moon under Artemis, NASA is taking inspiration from the legacy of Nichelle Nichols.”
President Joe Biden released a statement shortly after her death last month, praising the actress for shattering stereotypes at a pivotal time in the civil rights movement.
“In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a pioneer of stage and screen who redefined what’s possible for Black Americans and women,” he said.
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He said she comes from a “working-class Illinois family” and honed her skills as one Actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country with Duke Ellington and “breathing life into the words of James Baldwin”.
“During the height of the civil rights movement, she broke stereotypes to become the first black woman to play a major role in a film primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek,” Biden said. “With her dignity and authority, she helped tell a pivotal story that reimagined scientific endeavors and discoveries. And she continued that legacy by working with NASA to empower generations of Americans from all backgrounds to reach for the stars and beyond.”
Biden continued, “Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity and respect are the cornerstones of every society.”
She has received awards for breaking stereotypes for black actresses, with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. personally encouraging her to stay with the TV series as she expressed doubts about continuing work on the show. She met him at a civil rights rally in 1967, at a time when she had decided not to return for the show’s second season.
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“He said, ‘You can’t do that,'” Nichols recalled. “You changed the face of television forever and that’s why you changed people’s minds,” she said, the civil rights activist told her during a meeting.
During the third season of Star Trek, Nichols and another series star William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk, made TV history when they shared an interracial kiss.
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