Space History Photo: Nichelle Nichols, NASA Recruiter

space history, nasa, star trek, women
The Star Trek actress, Nichelle Nichols, shown here in 1977, was employed by NASA to recruit new astronauts into the late 1980s. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, Actress Nichelle Nichols, who was born in Robbins, Illinois on December 29, 1936, is shown. She played Lieutenant Uhura the Communications Officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise in the original series, Star Trek. Nichols stayed with the show and has appeared in six Star Trek movies. Her portrayal of Uhura on Star Trek marked one of the first non-stereotypical roles assigned to an African-American actress. She also provided the voice for Lt. Uhura on the Star Trek animated series in 1974-75. Before joining the crew on Star Trek, she sang and danced with Duke Ellington's band.

Nichols was always interested in space travel. She flew aboard the C-141 Astronomy Observatory, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn on an eight hour, high altitude mission.

From the late 1970's until the late 1980's, NASA employed Nichelle Nichols to recruit new astronaut candidates. Many of her new recruits were women or members of racial and ethnic minorities, including Guion Bluford (the first African-American astronaut), Sally Ride (the first female American astronaut), Judith Resnik (one of the original set of female astronauts, who perished during the launch of the Challenger on January 28, 1986), and Ronald McNair (the second African-American astronaut, and another victim of the Challenger accident).

Currently Nichelle Nichols is actively involved in movies and special appearances. She is also a spokesperson for her favorite charity, "The Kwanzaa Foundation."

Each weekday, looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

NASA Archives
U.S. Space Agency

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: