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'Star Trek' legend Nichelle Nichols' ashes to head to deep space on a Vulcan rocket

The spaceflight will also carry the remains of 'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife, actor Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, and actor James Doohan.

'Star Trek' legend Nichelle Nichols' ashes to head to deep space on a Vulcan rocket
Cover Image Source: Actress Nichelle Nichols during 2021 Los Angeles Comic Con at Los Angeles Convention Center on December 05, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images)

Nichelle Nichols, the late "Star Trek" legend whose role as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the sci-fi franchise's original 1960s TV series and movies helped break ground on TV for Black women, will venture into the unknown for real later this year when her ashes are released into deep space. According to CNN, United Launch Alliance—an American spacecraft launch provider—announced last week that a portion of Nichols' ashes will be aboard the first Celestis Voyager Memorial Spaceflight by the private company Celestis, Inc., which sends people's cremated remains and DNA into space for memorial flights.


In addition to the remains of Nichols, the Vulcan rocket will also carry the remains of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife, actor Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, and James Doohan, who played Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in the films and TV series. Known as the Enterprise Flight in honor of its passengers, "the Celestis mission will launch more than 150 flight capsules containing cremated remains (ashes), DNA samples, and messages of greetings from clients worldwide on an endless journey in interplanetary space," states a press release from Celestis.


"We're very pleased to be fulfilling, with this mission, a promise I made to Majel Barrett Roddenberry in 1997 that one day we would fly her and husband Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry together on a deep space memorial spaceflight," Celestis Co-Founder and CEO Charles M. Chafer said in January this year. "The mission is named Enterprise in tribute to them - and also fellow mission participant and beloved actor, James 'Scotty' Doohan—as well as the many Star Trek fans who are joining them on this, the 20th Celestis Memorial Spaceflight. We look forward to launching this historic mission on a rocket named Vulcan."


"We are honored that Celestis has selected United Launch Alliance (ULA) to launch this important mission," said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. "What a fitting tribute to the Roddenberry family and the Star Trek fans to be a part of the maiden flight of Vulcan, our next-generation rocket. ULA has a deep history with launching critical missions in support of national defense for our nation, so we are deeply humbled that many veterans also will be flying on this mission. It is an amazing recognition of their service and sacrifice to our country from their loved ones."


According to NPR, the spaceflight—planned for later this year—will travel more than 250 million miles into interplanetary deep space, beyond the Earth-moon system and NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, in what Celestis has called "a mission that is the first of its kind." It is slated to launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral. Those interested can pay to send their own DNA or a portion of their loved ones' cremated remains in a spaceflight container for a price starting at $12,500. Availability is limited, and reservations close on August 31. Celestis also offers other voyages that don't travel as far that cost less than $5,000.


Fans can also take part in Nichols' final journey from a distance by submitting a tribute message for the star online. "Nichelle, the Roddenberrys, and James 'Scotty' Doohan have chosen Celestis to launch a symbolic portion of their cremated remains aboard the upcoming Enterprise Flight. Share a message showing how Nichelle Nichols inspired you, and watch it launch into deep space on her final mission! Enter your information along with your message and join others worldwide in celebrating Nichelle and the discovery she inspired," the company states on its website.

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