While her achievements are well-documented, few people know where her story began. Hers is a story of grit, determination, and undying curiosity about the world. But it is also about the influence of an iconic TV show that showed her the sky is not the limit!
Jemison was fascinated by the universe since grade school. By the time she was in high school, she was poring over all the astronomy books she could find. The Apollo program had a nation mesmerized, but there were no women astronauts. Jemison was disappointed. So, she went looking for inspiration onscreen and found it on Star Trek.
Jemison followed the adventures of the Enterprise as it journeyed across the universe. She was drawn to the character of Lieutenant Uhura (played by Nichelle Nichols) – a black woman, communications officer, translator, and incredible taker-charger when things got tough on the Enterprise.
Her love for Star Trek went much beyond pop culture mania or teenage fandom. In September 1992, Jemison became the first black woman in space. While orbiting the earth onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor, Jemison began each shift with a specific report to Mission Control – “hailing frequencies are open.” The line was Lt. Uhura’s signature phrase on Star Trek.
Dreams Do Come True
Jemison got to meet her hero, Nichelle Nichols, with whom she shared a close friendship after. What’s more, Jemison’s dream of setting foot on the USS Enterprise came true. In 1993, Jemison made a guest appearance on the beloved show – the place where her love for astronomy and the universe first began.