The late actor Nichelle Nichols, best known as Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, will become the last member of the 1960s TV series to be commemorated by having some of her remains sent into space.
Nichols, who died on July 30 at the age of 89, is credited as one of the first black women to star on network television for helping to break down racial stereotypes and redefine the roles of black actors in Hollywood at the height of the US civil rights movement. .
Now it has been added to the posthumous manifesto of passengers on a real rocket ship because of a collection of vials containing the cremated ashes and DNA samples of dozens of space enthusiasts who embarked on their final and eternal journey around the sun, organizers said. tribute.
No launch date has been set yet.
Other Star Trek cast members and executives who launched the remains into space include James Doohan, who played the show’s chief engineer Scotty, and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
Also joining the presentation will be the remains of Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett-Rodenberry, who played nurse Christine Chappell in the series, and renowned science fiction visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull, whose work has featured in films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek : motion picture.
The launch was organized by Celestis Inc, a Texas-based company that has carved out a unique niche in the burgeoning commercial space sector by offering a measure of space immortality to customers who can afford dramatic launches that contract with private rocket companies.
Celestis does not publicly disclose fees or other financial details of its service.
The upcoming commemorative flight will take place aboard the Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is still being developed by the Boeing-Lockheed Martin United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint venture.
More than 200 capsules of human remains and DNA for what Celestis calls its Enterprise Flight are planned to be on the upper stage of a rocket that will fly into deep space, beyond the gravitational pull of Earth and the Moon, and eventually enter the eternal solar orbit, said Charles Chafer, co-founder and chief executive officer of Celestis.
“It’s a beautiful memorial for her, forever,” said Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson.
In the 1970s, NASA hired Nichols to help recruit more marginalized groups and women to the space agency, where she was influential in attracting talent such as the first U.S. female astronaut Sally Ride, the first black female astronaut Mae Jamison, and the first black CEO NASA Charlie Bolden.