Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols’ ashes head for solar orbit, Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES — The late actress Nichelle Nichols, better 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 Earthly remains flown into space.

Nichols, who died July 30 at the age of 89, is credited with helping to break down racial stereotypes and redefine Hollywood roles for black actors during the height of the American civil rights movement, as one of the first black women to portray a stand-alone character on network television. .

Now it has been added to the posthumous passenger manifesto of an actual rocket that is to carry a collection of vials containing cremated ashes and DNA samples from dozens of space enthusiasts who died on a final and eternal journey. around the sun, according to the organizers of the tribute.

The launch date has not yet been set.

Other Star Trek cast members and executives whose remains were launched into space include James Doohan, who played the show’s chief engineer, Scotty, and Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry. .

Also joining the launch will be the remains of Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who played nurse Christine Chapel on the series, and acclaimed sci-fi visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull, whose work has been featured in films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Movie.

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The launch is being organized by Celestis Inc, a Texas-based company that has created a unique niche in the burgeoning commercial space industry by offering a measure of cosmic immortality to customers who can afford a spectacular send-off, which contracts with private rocket companies.

Celestis did not disclose the costs of this flight but lists the fares for its memorial spaceflights on its website.

The next memorial flight will be aboard a Vulcan Centaur rocket, still under development by the Boeing and Lockheed Martin United Launch Alliance (ULA) joint venture.

Plans call for the more than 200 capsules carrying human remains and DNA for what Celestis calls its ‘corporate flight’ to go inside the rocket’s upper stage as it flies into deep space. , beyond the gravitational pull of Earth and the Moon and will eventually enter perpetual solar orbit, said Charles Chafer, co-founder and CEO of Celestis.

“It’s a wonderful memorial to her, an everlasting one,” Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson told Reuters.

In the 1970s, Nichols was hired by NASA to help recruit more marginalized groups and women to the space agency, where she was influential in attracting talent such as America’s first female astronaut, Sally Ride, the first black female astronaut, Mae Jemison, and the first black NASA chief, Charlie Bolden.