Nichelle Nichols, who originated the role of Nyota Uhura on the original Star Trek series, will be part of an upcoming NASA mission, People magazine reported.
The 82-year-old actress announced during an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit that she will be onboard the agency’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) when it launches on Sept. 15 from the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. However, she added, it will not actually go into space.
“It’s an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible,” she explained.
According to NASA, the aircraft — a joint project between the agency and German Aerospace Center — carries a telescope measuring 2.5-meter in diameter, or 100 inches, allowing researchers “access to the visible, infrared and sub-millimeter spectrum.” Its most recent mission entailed observing what NASA called “portions of the universe visible only from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere.”
Nichols later posted that she also flew onboard SOFIA’s predecessor, the Gerald P. Kuiper Airborne Observatory, in 1977.
“It’s an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from Earth,” she said of the upcoming flight. “I do hope someone gets some great pictures.”
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt