Space

Launches: Ashes of Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura and others to go to space

Launches: Woman smiling at camera showing jewelry nasa logo in background
Actress Nichelle Nichols, known for her most famous role as communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series, displays her Lego astronaut ring while visiting NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Monday, November 1, 2010. The cremated remains of Nichols, who died at age 89 on July 30, 2022, will be flown into space aboard a memorial mission scheduled for later in 2022. Photo Credit: NASA/ Bill Ingalls via Uhura.com.

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Launches: Ashes of Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura and others to go to space

The remains of actress Nichelle Nichols – best remembered for her historic role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the first Star Trek TV series, as well as subsequent films – will be launched into space sometime in 2022. Nichols, 89, died July 30, 2022, in Silver City, New Mexico.

Also on the memorial flight will be remains of fellow Star Trek star James “Scotty” Doohan, the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who played multiple roles on various Star Trek iterations. The Earthly remains of Apollo-era astronauts Gordon Cooper and Phil Chapman, and film director Douglas Trumbull will also be included on the mission.

Flight to carry DNA, documents

The inaugural memorial mission – dubbed the Enterprise Flight by the aerospace company Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – will launch later in 2022, also carrying the mortal remains of other deceased space enthusiasts with the more celebrated honorees. Inclusion onboard the first Celestis Voyager Memorial Spaceflight starts at $12,500. The spaceflight will carry the solemnized three million kilometers beyond the Earth-moon system.

Celestis will send DNA samples along with the ashes of those being commemorated, and the funerary spacecraft will carry a nickel disc with up to 81,000 pages of documents and photographs. A quote on the company’s website from Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene and Majel, describes why such memorialization appeals to fans of his father’s show:

For anyone who is forward-thinking or really embraces the future that my father envisioned in Star Trek, it really seems like a unique and cool opportunity to put yourself up there …

Nichols, a champion for spaceflight equality

Nichols was certainly forward thinking, as she championed the inclusion of black actors in major roles in American network television. Later, she worked to promote the hiring of women and people of color at NASA and other technology-based enterprises. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson summed up her contribution this way:

Nichelle Nichols was a trailblazing actress, advocate and dear friend to NASA. At a time when black women were seldom seen on screen, Nichelle’s portrayal as Nyota Uhura on Star Trek held a mirror up to America that strengthened civil rights. Nichelle’s advocacy transcended television and transformed NASA. 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.

Bottom line: Remains of Star Trek celebrities, including Nichelle Nichols, and those of NASA astronauts will be launched three million miles beyond the Earth-moon system on a memorial spaceflight later in 2022.

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