Forty-nine years after she starred as the original Lieutenant Uhura in the TV series "Star Trek," actress Nichelle Nichols has now confirmed that she will be one of many on a NASA mission, boldly going where no other Star Trek cast member has gone before.
Briefly mentioned in her Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, Nichols also tweeted the news:
— Nichelle Nichols (@NichelleIsUhura) July 31, 2015
As a passenger aboard NASA’s specially commissioned Boeing 747, Nichols will be one of the first “non-essential personnel” to experience NASA’s newest telescope SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy), which will be built into the aircraft. This is not, however, a mission into 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," wrote Nichols.
Nichols also told Redditors of how she was on the first generation of such a flight in 1997, describing the voyage as “an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from Earth.”
In collaboration with NASA, the German Aerospace Center developed SOFIA, which is a second-generation observatory over 2.4 meters (8 feet) in diameter that's designed to operate when airborne. Infrared energy is observable by SOFIA, meaning it has the capacity to observe an impressive range of cosmic objects at extreme distances. During a test flight near New Zealand in June, SOFIA watched Pluto pass in front of a star.
The NASA mission will launch on September 15th this year.
[H/T: The Verge]