Cape Canaveral, Fla. – A Star Trek actress credited with sparking her fascination with space will spend an eternity exploring the cosmos on the first deep space shuttle mission.
Nichelle Nichols died in July at the age of 89, but Celestis, Inc. recently announced that some of her ashes will join many others on the inaugural campaign.
The Texas-based company said it will use United Launch Alliance rockets to launch more than 150 capsules containing cremated remains, DNA samples and wishes for an endless journey into space.
The rocket named Vulcan Centaur will carry the ashes of Star Trek creators and many other actors.
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Celestis co-founder and CEO Charles M. Chafer said before Nichols’ death earlier this year. “The mission is named Enterprise in tribute to him – and to the mission’s colleague and beloved actor, James “Scotty” Doohan – as well as the many Star Trek fans who will join him on the 20th Celestis Memorial Spaceflight.”
A firm date for the rocket launch has not been set, but the company said it is planning a December event from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The rocket will have several tasks, but ULA said its first responsibility will be to get the lander on the moon’s path before its upper stage with the memorial payload leaves.
Releasing cremated remains into space is not a new task, but sending them beyond the orbits of Earth and the moon is a mission that will break boundaries, an activity synonymous with Nichols’ life.
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“Nichelle Nichols was a successful actress, advocate and dear friend of NASA. At a time when black women were rarely seen on screen, Nichelle’s portrayal of Nyota Uhura on Star Trek held up a mirror to America that strengthened civil rights,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in her statement. A posthumous statement said. “Nichel’s advocacy has transformed NASA beyond television. After Apollo 11, Nichel made it her mission to inspire women and people of color to join the agency, change the face of STEM, and explore the cosmos. Nichel’s mission is NASA’s mission. Today, we at Artemis NASA continues to be guided by the legacy of Nichelle Nichols, tasked with sending the first woman and first person of color to the inner moon.”
Once the payload is in orbit, “Enterprise Flight” will be renamed “Enterprise Station” in hopes that it will serve as a symbol for other life forms in the galaxy away from Earth.
Learn more about memorial spaceflights: Click here