Skip to main content

In Most Fitting Tribute, Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols’ Ashes Are Going Into Deep Space

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series
(Image credit: Paramount)

On July 30, 2022, Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols passed away at the age of 89. Nichols starred as Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series and the first six Star Trek movies, and along with the character traveling through space as a member of the USS Enterprise, Nichols herself worked with NASA to promote the agency’s programs and help recruit more women and minority astronauts. So it’s only fitting that Nichols’ ashes are going into deep space.

Kyle Johnson, Nichelle Nichols’ son, has provided a portion of his mother’s ashes to be taken into space on a rocket known as the Vulcan, which is a nice Star Trek nod on its own since that’s the name of one of the franchise’s most well-known alien species. The rocket will launch later this year, and before sending Nichols’ ashes, deep into the solar system for this “Enterprise” mission (see what they did there?), it will drop a robotic lunar lander onto the moon to be used as a scout for NASA’s future Artemis flights to Earth’s natural satellite. Fans of Nichols’ can visit the Celestis Memorial Spaceflights memorial website to share tribute messages for the late actress that will be “digitized and launched” as part of this trip. Johnson said in a statement:

I’m sure she would have much preferred to go on the shuttle, but this was a pretty close second.

Nichelle Nichols is the latest high-profile individual connected to the Star Trek franchise whose ashes have been sent into space. This also happened with co-star James Doohan (who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott), Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Roddenberry’s wife Majel Barrett (who played Number One in the first Star Trek: The Original Series pilot called “The Cage” and later starred as Christine Chapel, among other roles in the franchise) and VFX powerhouse Douglas Trumbull. Nichols’ ashes will be accompanied by samples of her and her son’s DNA.

In the days after her passing, many Star Trek icons paid tribute to Nichelle Nichols, including William Shatner and George Takei, who co-starred with her in Star Trek: The Original Series as James Kirk and Hikaru Sulu, respectively. Whoopi Goldberg, who played Guinan in Star Trek: The Next Generation, also shared a heartfelt response to Nichols’ passing on The View, and Zoe Saldaña recalled when she met Nichols for the first time and the advice she shot on taking over the Uhura role for the Kelvin timeline-set Star Trek movies. Shatner, Takei and Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov, are now The Original Series’ only surviving main cast members.

Nichelle Nichols’ work in the Star Trek franchise can be watched with a Paramount+ subscription. You can also see Ceila Gooding perform a younger version of the character in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which will return for its second season next year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.