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Nichelle Nichols may have been famous for space travel Star Trekbut it has also helped a new generation of astronauts with the dream of reaching the true final frontier.
Nichols, who played Lt. Nyota Uhura in the iconic television series, helped NASA recruit some of its first female and minority astronauts, the space agency said in a tweet this weekend after the actress died Saturday. at the age of 89.
“We celebrate the life of Nichelle Nichols, actor, pioneer and model of Star Trek, who symbolized what was possible for so many,” the tweet light. “He has partnered with us to recruit some of the first minority women and astronauts and inspired generations to reach for the stars.”
On the NASA website, the agency said Nichols appeared in a promotional film meant to inspire women and people of color to apply to be astronauts.
Shortly thereafter, Guy Bluford, the first American black in space, and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, were named to NASA’s 1978 astronaut class.
CBS via Getty
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“I’ve always been proud of our exploits in space,” Nichols said during a speech at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in February 2012. “But something has always bothered me: ‘Where are the women? Where are the people of color? ‘ “
“Now more than ever, we are exploring the space beyond ‘beyond’,” he said at the event. “I wish I could live forever so I can live to see it because we’re on the road to that 23rd century [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry gave us … Our entire posterity will benefit from the growth of NASA. “
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“Nichelle Nichols was a pioneer actress, supporter and close friend of NASA,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. “At a time when black women were rarely seen on screen, the portrayal of Nichelle as Nyota Uhura in Star Trek was a mirror of America enforcing civil rights.”
She added, “Nichelle’s defense transcended television and transformed NASA. After Apollo 11, Nichelle made it her mission to inspire women and people of color to join this agency, change the face of STEM and explore the cosmos. Nichelle’s mission is NASA’s mission. Today, as we work to send the first woman and first black person to the moon under Artemis, NASA is being guided by the legacy of Nichelle Nichols. “
RELATED VIDEO: Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols died aged 89
when Star Trek First aired in 1966, Nichols was one of the first women of color to play a major role on prime time television.
She is often cited for giving her first interracial kiss on American television when her character kissed white lead William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk.
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Martin Luther King Jr. once called Nichols’ role “the first non-stereotypical role played by a black woman” in television history.
Nichols was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992, and when the original Star Trek the cast was honored in 1991, she became the first African American to put her handprints and signature in front of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater.