Behind the scenes at Kennedy Space Center with Nichelle Nichols

Following on from Caitlin Hucik’s excellent post highlighting trailblazers at NASA, we would like to present some recently digitized films highlighting actress Nichelle Nichols’ work to recruit a more diverse field of astronauts and other personnel for NASA in 1978. These films are outtakes from promotional material featuring Ms. Nichols and also former Astronaut Alan Bean.

Nichelle Nichols filming a NASA Television Spot in 1978.

Nichelle Nichols was an American actress, singer and dancer. She is best known for her portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the long running television and film series Star Trek. In the 1970’s Nichelle and her consulting firm, Woman in Motion, Inc. began an affiliation with NASA to help the agency recruit women and minority personnel. The program was a considerable success, having recruited, among others Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African American astronaut, and many others.

Here is a clip featuring some outtakes from a television promotional spot recorded at Kennedy Space Center (the first 30 seconds of this clip is silent):

In addition, we have recently found some out-takes of Nichelle being shown around Kennedy Space Center by Apollo Astronaut Alan Bean. Alan was a Navy Test Pilot who was selected by NASA as part of Astronaut Group 3 in 1963. He was the fourth person to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 12 mission in 1971, and was part of the second crewed mission to Skylab in 1973. By the mid-1970’s he was the head of the Astronaut Operations and Training Group.

We are currently working on preserving these films, but in the meantime here is a clip of Nichelle Nichols and Alan Bean in a shuttle simulator: