Nichelle Nichols To Go On a NASA Mission
Just three months after suffering a minor stroke, Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols will be flying on a mission for NASA.
Nichols shared the news during a recent “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit. In September, she’ll fly on the SOFIA space telescope, which is a converted Boeing 747 that can reach as high as 50,000 feet above sea level — almost, but not quite officially in space. “SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space. It’s an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible. I was on a similar flight, the first airborn observatory, back in 1977.” Nichols flew in an early space telescope mission when it was housed in a C-141. The mission analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn during an eight-hour flight.
“It’s an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from earth.”
Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on the original series, worked as an ambassador for NASA during the 1970s and 1980s, focusing on recruiting women and minorities for the space program. Among them: Guion Bluford (the first African-American astronaut), Sally Ride (the first female American astronaut), Judith Resnik (one of the original set of female astronauts, who perished in the Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986), and Ronald McNair (the second African-American astronaut, who also dies in the Challenger accident).
Since the mid-80s, she has served on the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher von Braun.
“I do hope someone gets some great pictures.”