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‘It’s where she belongs’: Nichelle Nichols’ ashes set to dwell among the stars

A woman with white hair sits on a rock and flashes the Vulcan salute.
Nichelle Nichols’ ashes will be sent to space later in 2022.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The late “Star Trek” star Nichelle Nichols will travel to the final frontier, one last time.

On Thursday, Celestis Inc., a company that originated and specializes in memorial spaceflights, announced that it has organized an unapologetically Trekkie mission to send a “symbolic portion” of the actor’s cremated remains to the stars.

Nichols, who was perhaps best known as the USS Enterprise’s communications officer Lt. Uhura, died in July.

In a release, Celestis shared that Nichols’ ashes and a sample of her DNA will be aboard the Celestis Enterprise Flight later this year on “an aptly named rocket called Vulcan.” (The late Leonard Nimoy famously played the Vulcan named Spock for decades in the franchise.)

“We are truly honored to add a legendary actress, activist, and educator to the Enterprise Flight manifest,” Charles M. Chafer, co-founder and chief executive of Celestis Inc., said in a statement. “Now our Enterprise Flight will have on board the person who most completely embodied the vision of ‘Star Trek’ as a diverse, inclusive, and exploring universe.”

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Nichols died of heart failure Saturday night at a hospital in Silver City, N.M.

According to Celestis, its Enterprise flight in conjunction with United Launch Alliance will travel beyond the Earth-moon system and will launch more than 200 capsules of clients’ ashes, tributes and DNA into space. Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, said that his DNA will also be on the flight.

After Nichols’ death, Johnson thought a memorial spaceflight would be an “appropriate memorial for her,” given her role in the hit sci-fi franchise and her contributions to the space community.

As Lt. Uhura, everything on the series ran through Nichols, who died Saturday at 89. With the role, she created a 50-year legacy and legions of fans.

“It’s where she belongs,” Johnson said.

On the Enterprise flight, Nichols’ ashes will be in familiar company as remains of fellow “Star Trek” figures will be aboard the Vulcan, including creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife, Majel Barrett Roddenberry; Scotty actor James Doohan, who played Scotty; and special effects master Douglas Trumbull.

Nichols died July 31 of heart failure at a hospital in Silver City, N.M. She was 89.


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