Nichelle Nichols’ ashes are heading to deep space

Nichols' role in "Star Trek" marked the first time a Black woman played a leading role on network TV unbound by Hollywood stereotypes.

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Nichelle Nichols may be absent in the physical form, but she still has one last space mission to complete.

People reported that Celestis Memorial Spaceflights has arranged for the late “Star Trek” actress’ ashes to travel deep into space on its Celestis Enterprise Flight. On the Celestis website, fans can write tribute messages to Nichols that will be blasted into space with her regal remains, according to the flight company.

“We are truly honored to add a legendary actress, activist, and educator to the Enterprise Flight manifest,” Celestis CEO and co-founder Charles M. Chafer said in a joint statement with NASA. “Now our Enterprise Flight will have on board the person who most completely embodied the vision of Star Trek” as diverse and inclusive.

Nichelle Nichols 2021
The ashes of “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols will be headed into deep space, thanks to Celestis Memorial Spaceflights. In this photo, Nichols attends a celebration in her honor at the 2021 Los Angeles Comic-Con. She died in July. (Photo: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)

Nichols, who died on July 30 at the age of 89, was best remembered for playing communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek.” Her portrayal marked the first time a Black woman played a leading role on a network television series unbound by Hollywood stereotypes.

On “Star Trek,” she was also credited with having the first interracial kiss — with fellow “Star Trek” icon William Shatner, portraying Captain James T. Kirk — on American television, as reported by People.

“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,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement. “Nichelle’s advocacy transcended television and transformed NASA.”

In the statement, Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, said of the space flight, “I know she would be profoundly honored.”

Set to launch this year on board the Vulcan rocket, the Celestis flight accommodating Nichols’ ashes’ sojourn into space will also board remains of other “Star Trek” notables, including show creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry and Nichols’ “Star Trek” co-star James “Scotty” Doohan. Its bookings will start at $12,500.

Nelson added that after Apollo 11 went into space in 1969, Nichols made it her mission to encourage women and people of color to work for NASA, transform the face of STEM and explore the cosmos — goals that still guide the agency today.

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