The ashes of Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original star trekwill be sent into deep space on a rocket commemorating her and several others star trek veterans (via Reuters). Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, donated his ashes after his death in July at age 89.
Nichols’ ashes will head into space on a rocket aptly named Vulcan Centaur, with memorial spaceflight company Celestis leading the “Enterprise Flight” mission. There is still no set date for the launch, and it will likely depend on the ongoing development of the Vulcan rocket by United Launch Alliance.
During the mission, Nichols will be joined by the remains of star trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel Barrett, who played series nurse Christine Chapel. James Doohan, who played Enterprise engineer Scotty, and visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull, who is known for his work on Star Trek: The Movie, blade runnerand more, will also be on board.
When the rocket takes off from Cape Canaveral, it will carry more than 200 capsules containing ashes, DNA samples, as well as names, messages and photos provided by users around the world. Celestis will store the capsules in the upper stage of the rocket, which will be sent 150 to 300 million kilometers into space and orbit the Sun.
Nichols was a pioneer in the film industry and became the first black woman to have a major role on television. Her legacy also extends offscreen, as she championed NASA to encourage the recruitment of astronauts from underrepresented backgrounds. He is credited with helping send the first black man, Colonel Guion Bluford, and the first woman, Sally Ride, into space.