The late actress Nichelle Nichols, best known as Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek, is the latest addition to the 1960s TV series to commemorate her by flying part of her terrestrial corpse into space.
Nichols, who died on July 30 at the age of 89, is credited with breaking down racial stereotypes and redefining the role of black actors in Hollywood at the height of the civil rights movement in America. The network made her one of the first black women to play an empowered character on television. .
Now she’s added to the posthumous passenger roster of the actual Rocket Ship…a tribute.
A launch date has not yet been set.
Other Star Trek cast members and executives include James Doohan, who played Scotty, the show’s chief engineer, and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
Also joining the launch are Roddenberry’s wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who played nurse Christine Chappell on the series, and renowned sci-fi visual effects artist whose work has been featured in films such as 2001: A Space. Artist Douglas Trumbull. Odyssey and Star Trek: The Movies.
Launch is a Texas-based company that has created a unique niche in the burgeoning commercial space sector by offering a means of space immortality to customers who can afford a dramatic send off, and the private sector. Organized by Celestis under contract to Rocket Ventures.
Celestis has not disclosed the price of the flight, but does list prices for the commemorative space flight on its website.
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The upcoming commemorative flight will be on board the Vulcan Centaur rocket, still under development by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The plan calls for more than 200 capsules carrying human remains and DNA to overcome the gravitational pull of the Earth and Moon into deep space, and eventually into outer space, for what Celestis calls “enterprise flights.” You have to go inside the upper rocket stage to enter. Celestis co-founder and CEO Charles Chafer said:
“This is a wonderful keepsake for her and one that will last forever,” Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson told Reuters.
In the 1970s, Nichols was hired by NASA to help recruit more marginalized groups and women into the space agency. There she met America’s first female astronaut, Sally Ride, the first black female astronaut, Mae Jemison, and the first black NASA chief, Charlie Bolden.