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July 2021
Woman in Motion (2021): Nichell Nichols from Star Trek to NASA
Woman in Motion (2021): Nichell Nichols from Star Trek to NASA
Woman in Motion is a documentary that examines Nichell Nichols' life and her influence on television, culture, and the US space program. The story begins with her singing and dancing career, through her Star Trek career, and into her involvement with NASA. She talks about meeting Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer, a NASA scientist and how in watching one of his presentations she realized as a black woman, she wasn't represented in NASA, either as a woman or an African American.

"I sat through Dr. Puttkamer's presentation in utter awe. I saw all of this ponderousness. . . . And I sat there thrilled and impressed as I watch the presentation of where we had gone as human beings. And I didn't see me. And out of that awe and out of that thrill came a feeling of disenfranchisement. I didn't see myself in the present space program. I didn't see myself as a black and I didn't see myself as a woman. Here I was involved in projecting a future of what our space program could--where it could take us. And I wanted to be there, not in fantasy, not 300 years from now, but today."

The documentary addresses how Nichell Nichols led NASA to train, hire, and involve African American women and men in the NASA space program as leaders, scientists, engineers, administrators, and astronauts. She spoke and recruited people of color, women and men, to apply to NASA, using her company, Women in Motion. Whether you are a Star Trek fan or not, this is an interesting and important documentary to see. Nichell Nichols led NASA to boldly go where NASA had never gone before.
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Peter Doolittle
Blacksburg, VA 24060
pdoo@vt.edu