Lt. Uhura is headed back to the final frontier.
“Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols, who died last month at the age of 89, will be included in a memorial spaceflight organized by Celestis Inc., the company announced Thursday.
The Enterprise Flight will include “a symbolic portion of [Nichols’] cremated remains and a DNA sample,” as well as other “Star Trek” luminaries, Celestis said in a release.
“Launching later this year on board United Launch Alliance’s aptly named Vulcan rocket, along with other participants, Nichols will be joining ‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife and ‘First Lady of Star Trek’ Majel Barrett Roddenberry, beloved ‘Star Trek’ actor James ‘Scotty’ Doohan, and VFX maestro and Hollywood icon Douglas Trumbull, among others, making this a once-in-a-lifetime ‘Star Trek’ Reunion flight,” the company said.
Nichols made television history when she assumed the role of Uhura, one of the first Black female characters to be presented as fully equal to other characters.
She also shared television’s first interracial kiss with William Shatner — aka Capt. James T. Kirk — only a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial relationships with Loving v. Virginia.
Beyond her impact on American culture, Nichols’ final trip to the stars is fitting because she was instrumental in recruiting women and minority candidates for jobs at NASA.
“Nichelle’s advocacy transcended television and transformed NASA,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in Celestis’ announcement. “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. Nichelle’s mission is NASA’s mission. Today, as we work to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under Artemis, NASA is guided by the legacy of Nichelle Nichols.”
Nichols’ final flight will travel between 150 million and 300 kilometers “into deep space, well beyond the Earth-Moon system to interplanetary space,” according to Celestis.
“This mission will launch over 200 flight capsules containing cremated remains (ashes), messages of greetings, and DNA samples from clients worldwide on an endless journey in interplanetary space,” the release said. “Vulcan will first put Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander on a trajectory for its rendezvous with the Moon. The Centaur upper stage will then continue into deep space, entering an orbit around the Sun, becoming humanity’s furthermost reaching outpost, which will then be renamed the Enterprise Station.
To learn more about the Enterprise Flight, visit its website.