Fans urge NASA to honour Uhura actress Nichelle Nichols with Artemis rebrand

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Another original Star Trek actor has passed: Captain Nyota Uhura actor Nichelle Nichols. At the age of 89, after a long battle with dementia, Nichols passed from heart failure.

Following the iconic actor’s passing, many have come forth to pay tribute. However, some fans are asking for something bigger, for NASA to name a spacecraft in the actor’s honour.

NASA should name Artemis after Uhura

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In a new Change petition, Star Trek fans are fighting to get the upcoming Artemis rocket named after the actress. With Nichelle Nichols’ influence over science fiction and NASA in the 60s and 70s, the honour is more than deserved.

The petition explains that Nichols’ work on Star Trek inspired a generation of black girls to become astronauts. In fact, Mae Jemison, the first black woman to go to space, directly listed Uhura as the reason why she wanted to be an astronaut.

Furthermore, Nichol’s directly worked with NASA during this period to recruit more black people into the company. As a voice for the people, Nichelle Nichols helped to turn NASA into what it is today.

The Artemis 1 launch will see the first woman and the first person of colour land on The Moon. When Star Trek launched in 1966, humanity hadn’t even touched The Moon. When it did, it was still a white man’s accomplishment, despite how many women of colour were essential in that mission’s success.

The petition asks that NASA rename the Artemis rocket to Uhura. Not only would the rocket be in the honour of Nichols, but also the name fits its mission. In Swali, Uhura means “freedom”; isn’t that what space travel is all about?

If you want to join in on the petition, click here.

Nichelle Nichols at NASA
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Credit: NASA.gov
Nichelle Nichols at NASA

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Will NASA do it?

Modern NASA listening to fan demand is not common. For example, the brilliant engineering that is the James Webb Telescope drew the ire of space fans due to the fact that they named it after a horrible bigot.

During his reign at NASA, Webb was the spearhead of the Lavender Scare. This period saw LGBT employees — who were previously welcome at the progressive company — hunted down and booted out. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why fans didn’t want the Telescope named after him.

Despite this, NASA refused to rename the telescope. With this in mind, the Artemis 1 rocket likely won’t be renamed, even if it’s for the honour of one of the most important actors of all time. However, with enough signatures, maybe the next rocket will be named Uhura.