See Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in Uplifting 1979 Space Museum Film

The National Air and Space Museum honored the Star Trek star's legacy by resurfacing footage from its archives.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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A young Black girl stands with Nichelle Nichols in uniform as Star Trek's Uhura.
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A young Black girl stands with Nichelle Nichols in uniform as Star Trek's Uhura.

Nichelle Nichols was in character as Uhura encouraging a young girl to reach for the stars in a 1979 promo film made for the National Air and Space Museum.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Nichelle Nichols, a trailblazing actress and staunch supporter of NASA and inclusive space exploration, died at the age of 89 on Saturday. Tributes continue to pour in recognizing her advocacy work and her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series. One of the most poignant is a promotional film the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum found in its archives.

The 1979 film is called What's In It for Me? and features Nichols in character as Uhura investigating a time warp anomaly. It was filmed around the time of the first Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Nichols wears a beige uniform like the ones from the movie, with the "belly warmer" accessory. 

Nichols' own company, Women in Motion, co-produced the film. The museum shared clips showing Uhura beaming down into the museum, where she meets a young Black girl named Lishia. Lishia shows her around the museum as Uhura reports back to Mr. Spock on the Enterprise about what she sees. 

Nichols shows off her singing chops as she serenades Lishia with an inspirational song after the girl asks, "Can girls ever really be like you? Can they really tour galaxies like you do?" At the end of the clip, Uhura calls for Scotty to beam her back to her own time.

The footage brings together many threads from Nichols' career. She was an officer on the USS Enterprise. She was a singer. She helped recruit diverse applicants for NASA's astronaut program. She inspired children to look to space as scientists and as explorers. As she sings in the film, "Just reach for your star every moment."