Remembering Nichelle Nichols (1932-2022)
Although she played Lt. Uhura on the TV and movie versions of STAR TREK, from 1977 until 2015 Nichelle Nichols volunteered her time to promote NASA's programs, and to recruit diverse astronauts, including women and minorities. The program was a success. Among those recruited were Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and United States Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the Space Shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. Recruits also included Charles Bolden, the former NASA administrator and veteran of four shuttle missions, Frederick D. Gregory, former deputy administrator and a veteran of three shuttle missions and Lori Garver, former deputy administrator. An enthusiastic advocate of space exploration, Nichols served from the mid-1980s on the board of governors of the National Space Institute (today's National Space Society), a nonprofit, educational space advocacy organization. Among her many remarkable achievements, Nichols also had Asteroid 68410 Nichols named in her honor.