Late actress Nichelle Nichols, who passed away in July, will return to space with several of her “Star Trek” crew members as part of a mission to set their remains into orbit.
Nichols is best known for portraying Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek” and its film sequels. Her ashes will be added to the payload of aboard the Celestis Enterprise Flight, a Vulcan rocket launching for the moon and beyond. The 150 million to 300 million kilometre expedition is part of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur mission to deliver a robotic lunar lander, which will explore for NASA’s future Artemis flights to the moon. The heavy-lift launch vehicle will then travel deeper into the solar system for the “Star Trek” tribute.
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The rocket, which has been under development since 2014, will distribute Nichols’ remains, plus “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife a.k.a. “First Lady of ‘Star Trek’” Majel Barrett Roddenberry (Nurse Chapel) and beloved “Star Trek” actor James Doohan (Scotty) into a “graveyard orbit” around the sun.
Along with “a symbolic portion” of Nichols’ remains, the late actress and activists’ family have decided to honour her by including “a sample of her DNA” aboard the flight.
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Speaking of the two-stage-to-orbit rocket, Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, says, “I’m sure she would have much preferred to go on the shuttle, but this was a pretty close second.”
In a statement obtained by ET Canada, Johnson said his only regret is that “I cannot share this eternal tribute standing beside my mother at the launch.”
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“I know she would be profoundly honoured for this unique experience,” he added.
Johnson’s DNA will also be submitted to take this historic “Star Trek” reunion flight with his mother. Fans who wish to be a part of Nichols’ journey to the cosmos can submit their names and personalized messages to be launched into space with her.
Vulcan Centaur is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida later this year or early 2023.