‘Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols Ashes To Be Sent Into Deep Space

by Chris Piner

Premiering in 1966, the original series of Star Trek aired for only 3 seasons with 79 episodes. While not the longest run on television, the premise of the show led to an international franchise still celebrated today. Starting as a simple science fiction idea, Star Trek transformed into a cultural movement with movies, games, books, and comics. Considered one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time, Star Trek made close to $11 billion in revenue. And besides boldly going where no man has gone before, the series was groundbreaking at the time for casting Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura. At the time, Nichols landing the role was significant for both women and African Americans. Sadly, she passed away last month. Wanting to honor the star with style, it seems the iconic actress will take one last ride into space. 

Thanks to the United Launch Alliance and their Vulcan Centaur mission, Nichelle Nichols and several other stars related to the Star Trek franchise will blast off into space this coming winter. While the launch’s core mission is to deliver a robotic lander to scout for future Artemis flights to the moon, Nichols will be placed into a “graveyard orbit” around the sun. 

As already mentioned, she won’t be alone as Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, Nurse Chapel, played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and James Doohan, known as Scotty, will also accompany her on the intergalactic trip. 

Given the name of the rocket, Vulcan, Nichelle Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, joked that she might have enjoyed going on a shuttle instead of a rocket. “I’m sure she would have much preferred to go on the shuttle, but this was a pretty close second.” 

Former Co-Stars Share Love For Nichelle Nichols

Besides starring in the legendary series, Nichelle Nichols helped promote numerous opportunities with the NASA program. From 1977 to 2015, the actress helped NASA recruit a wide range of astronauts that included both minorities and women. 

At the time of her death, numerous former co-stars, like George Takei, shared their love for the late actress. Takei wrote on Twitter, “I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise. For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.” 

The man behind Captain Kirk, William Shatner, who shared an intimate kiss with Nichelle Nichols on television, voiced his love for the star as well. “I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Nichelle. She was a beautiful woman & played an admirable character that did so much for redefining social issues both here in the US & throughout the world. I will certainly miss her. Sending my love and condolences to her family. Bill”