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The ashes of late ‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols will boldly go where few have gone before when they are launched into space aboard a historic Enterprise flight later this year.
Nichols, who was known for playing the iconic Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in all three seasons of the original show from 1966 to 1969, died on 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 among the stars thanks to Celestis Inc., the leader in memorial spaceflight.
Nichols’ remains will join late “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 from ‘Star Trek’ actor James Doohan, who played Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott and died in 2005, and visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull, who died in February, will also be included in the mission to mark the unique “Star Trek” reunion. flight.
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“We are truly honored to add a legendary actress, activist and educator to the Enterprise Flight manifesto,” Charles M. Chafer, co-founder and CEO of Celestis Inc., said in a statement.
“Now, our Enterprise Flight will have on board the person who best embodies the vision of Star Trek as a diverse, inclusive and exploratory universe.”
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The flight is expected to travel between 150 and 300 million kilometers into deep space and beyond the Earth-Moon system.
On the mission, Nichols will also be joined by her son, Kyle Johnson, who will submit his DNA to allow him to take this trip with his mother.
“My only regret is not being able to share this everlasting tribute alongside my mother at launch,” Johnson said.
“I know she would be deeply honored for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and I enthusiastically encourage all of her fans to join us vicariously by contributing your thoughts, affections, memories, NN-inspired successes, dreams and aspirations via email to launch with her on this flight! WOW!” 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 scanned and launched with her during the trip.
Thanks to Celestis, 200 flight capsules containing cremated remains, messages and DNA samples from customers around the world will also join the endless interplanetary space journey.
Nichols broke down barriers for black women in Hollywood and championed spaceflight programs as NASA’s chief recruiter.
“Nichelle Nichols was a pioneering actress, lawyer and dear friend to NASA. At a time when black women were rarely seen on screen, Nichelle’s portrayal as Nyota Uhura on Star Trek held a mirror up to the America that strengthened civil rights. Nichelle’s advocacy transcended television and transformed NASA,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
“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 land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis, NASA is guided by the legacy of Nichelle Nichols.”
President Joe Biden released a statement shortly after her death last month, praising the actress for breaking stereotypes at a pivotal time in the civil rights movement.
“In Nichelle Nichols, our nation lost a stage and screen pioneer who redefined what is possible for black Americans and women,” he said.
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He said she came from a “working-class Illinois family” and honed her skills as a actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country with Duke Ellington and bringing “the words of James Baldwin to life”.
“At the height of the civil rights movement, she broke stereotypes to become the first black woman to play a major role in a prime time tv show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek,” Biden said. “With defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued that legacy by continuing to work with NASA to enable generations of Americans from all walks of life 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 was rewarded for breaking stereotypes of black actresses, with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. personally encouraging her to stay with the TV series when she expressed doubts about continuing to work on the program. 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 as a result, you changed people’s minds,” she said in a meeting.
During the third season of “Star Trek”, Nichols and another star of the series, William Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk, made television history when they shared an interracial kiss.