The late stars of “Star Trek: The Original Series” will live long and prosper in space, thanks to a pioneering new mission.
After legendary “Star Trek” actress and NASA collaborator Nichelle Nichols died in July 2022 at age 89, memorial spaceflight organization Celestis contacted Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson about her remains being put into orbit. Named after the fictional U.S.S. Enterprise in the original “Star Trek” series that premiered in 1966, Celestis’ “Enterprise” mission involves a rocket named “Vulcan” that will transport Nichols, along with other “Star Trek” co-stars’ ashes, into space, as reported by Universe Today. The launch is scheduled to take place in December out of Cape Canaveral in Florida.
One gram of Nichols’ ashes, along with a cheek swab sample from her son Johnson, will go into orbit. Remains from fellow “Star Trek” alums James Doohan, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, series creator Gene Roddenberry, and visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull will also travel on the Vulcan rocket.
Nichols’ son Johnson was contacted by Celestis co-founder Charles Chafer after the actress’ passing.
“I was kind of in a state of shock, alternately crying my eyes out or feeling kind of numb,” Johnson said. “And then we were contacted by Charlie and the crew, and informed of this and invited to participate. The timing could not have been better, and it was a really amazing thing to contemplate.”
He added of his mother, “I’m sure she would have much preferred to go on the shuttle, but this was a pretty close second.”
To note, Nichols’ co-star and onscreen love interest William Shatner famously already went to space in 2021.
The “Enterprise” memorial mission is the secondary payload for United Launch Alliance’s first Vulcan Centaur mission, organized by Houston-based Celestis. Per Universe Today, the Vulcan rocket will “travel through deep space, leaving the Earth-Moon system.” The prime directive of the “Enterprise” mission is to land on the lunar surface for research after having jettisoned the attached payloads to head to a “graveyard orbit” circling the sun.
The “Enterprise” flight will also be carrying the ashes, DNA, messages, and inscribed names of more than 150 other participants who have paid for the experience. Pricing for memorial spaceflights with Celestis ranges between $2,495 and $25,000.