This year, an Alabama rocket will carry the remains of the late actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original “Star Trek” tv show. The enormously famous spacefaring program that aired in 1966 featured Nichols, who passed away on July 31 at the age of 89, as the first Black woman to occupy a major television role. Then 3 years later, Americans finally set foot on the moon.
In addition to being a friend and supporter of NASA, Nichols inspired a generation of performers and admirers of the series and space exploration. She also encouraged Black Americans to participate in the space program. An ironically titled Vulcan rocket made in Decatur will now carry Nichols’ ashes, those of Star Trek inventor Gene Roddenberry, fellow show actor James “Scotty” Doohan, and others, to a forever location in space.
On Friday, Kyle Johnson, Nichols’ son, commented on the offer to scatter his mother’s ashes into space by saying, “It took a while for that to sink in.” However, the more I gave it consideration, the more I understood that this was the ideal send-off for both my mother and her supporters. They may be involved and given the opportunity to essentially tag along, according to Johnson.
On board the “Enterprise Flight” of the Celestis business, Nichols’ ashes and the others will be transported in separate “flight capsules.” Company officials have said that after the rocket reaches its goal in deep orbit, it would be transformed into an “Enterprise station,” a permanent “repository outpost” in space. The company’s website has further information.
One of the most dependable in America’s spacecraft fleet is the rocket itself. It regularly boosts satellites for the military and academia and has four common configurations.
The Vulcan is constructed by United Launch Alliance (ULA) employees at a large facility in Decatur, Tennessee, along the Tennessee River. In order to go to Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast, the rockets are loaded onto barges and transported down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King personally persuaded Nichols to continue on the program when she considered quitting because she had become so crucial to the perception of Black people in America. Even after quitting the television show, she persisted and Nichols continued to promote the space program. She was also Huntsville’s buddy. When the shuttle program was run out of this location, one of her best friends turned out to be her future business partner and was employed by Lockheed Martin.
Additionally, her son said, they were close family friends. He had children, so there were always special occasions like holidays and birthdays. They were daily coworkers, which adds another connection. In that sense, Huntsville and Alabama come to mind lovingly.
Nichols addressed a group of foreign educators at Space Camp, held annually at the United States Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1992. She spoke to educators from other countries, trainees, and statewide teachers of the year.
Because you are surrounded by some of the greatest heroes in history – our instructors – Nichols remarked, “You are incredibly fortunate to be born in this time and period. Teachers who can see into the future and what it might hold for you. I eagerly await your actions. Nichols’ closing phrase, “May you live long and prosper,” was a play on the well-known Vulcan salutation from Star Trek: The Next Generation.