The ashes of a ‘Star Trek’ legend will be launched into deep space on a Vulcan rocket.
(CNN) — The ashes of late “Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols will be launched into space later this year by United Launch Alliance aboard a Vulcan Centaur rocket.
Nichols, who died on July 30 at the age of 89, is best known for his role as Lt. Nyota Uhura in the “Star Trek” television series from 1966 to 1969, as well as the films from 1979 to 1991.
As the only Black character on “Star Trek” during the civil rights era of the 1960s, Nichols became a pioneer of representation on screen as well as in the fields of space and science. She was instrumental in the recruitment of some of the first female and minority US astronauts, including Guion Bluford Jr., the first African American to go to space in 1983, and Judith Resnik, one of six women chosen as NASA astronauts in 1978, the first year women were considered.
Nichols had planned to leave “Star Trek” after the first season in 1967 to pursue a Broadway career, but she decided to stay after hearing about the impact of her non-stereotypical role on Black Americans from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Prior to Nichols’ historic role on television, Black women were frequently portrayed as domestic workers or in minor roles.
Her ashes will be carried aboard the first Celestis Voyager Memorial Spaceflight, which will take off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Celestis, Inc. is a for-profit corporation that organises memorial spaceflights.
The ashes of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who played various roles in the show and films, and James Doohan, who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the films and TV series, will also be aboard the flight.
Fans of Nichols can send a tribute message to the plane via the flight’s website.
The mission will take the spacecraft beyond NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and into interplanetary deep space. Along with cremated remains, capsules onboard will contain complete human genome DNA samples from willing participants.
People can participate in the flight by storing their DNA or loved ones’ remains in a spaceflight container, with reservations closing on August 31. (Celestis also offers shorter-distance voyages that cost less than $5,000.) Celestis will host a three-day event before the flight, including mission briefings, an astronaut-hosted dinner, launch site tours, an on-site memorial service, and launch viewing.
According to Celestis, all events will be webcast.