Star Trek leading lady and American trailblazer Nichelle Nichols, who died on July 30 at age 89, is getting a sendoff worthy of one of the original helm officers of the USS Enterprise (NCC 1701). Nichols’ cremated remains and a DNA sample are being rocketed to space by a company called Celestis.
As Space.com reports, Texas-based Celestis offers “memorial spaceflight services” for those who want to give their loved ones a truly unique remembrance—one that, depending on your spiritual swing, is perhaps closer to the infinite than a grave.
Not only is Nichols—whose role as communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura in the late 1960s revolutionized television by featuring a Black woman in a position of authority—going to escape the surly bonds of earth, the company announced on Thursday that her remains have been selected to be aboard its first-ever deep space mission.
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The company, which has been in business since 1994, says its upcoming Enterprise Flight, launching later this year, will travel 93 million to 186 million miles into deep space, beyond the Earth-moon system (the sun is on average about 93 million miles from earth). The memorial mission will launch more than 200 flight capsules containing cremated remains, special messages, greetings and DNA samples from global clients into interplanetary space.
The capsules will be riding atop United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket, whose primary function involves sending Pittsburgh company Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander toward the moon, according to Space.com.
From there, however, the craft will continue its trek, just like the Federation flagship a young Cadet Uhura first boarded under the command of Captain Christopher Pike in 2259—six years before James T. Kirk ever took command.
Vulcan’s Centaur upper stage will continue traveling into deep space, entering an orbit around the sun, Space.com reports, eventually becoming a remote outpost known as Enterprise Station.
Some of Nichols’ old friends will be along for the adventure as well. The cremated remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and James “Scotty” Doohan will be making the trip. As will Douglas Trumbull, the visual effects genius behind Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—which will be great fun for those who believe Kubrick and Trumbull faked the moon landing.
Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, also submitted a DNA sample for the sun-bound flight.
“My only regret is that I cannot share this eternal tribute standing beside my mother at the launch,” Johnson said in a statement. “I know she would be profoundly honored for this unique experience and enthusiastically encourage all of her fans to join us vicariously by contributing your thoughts, affections, memories, NN inspired successes, dreams and aspirations via email to be launched with her on this flight! WOW!”
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