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'Star Trek' alum visits Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Nichelle Nichols, a cast member from the original "Star Trek" series, shows the iconic Vulcan hand gesture from the series during an interview Friday, March 19, 2010, here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Nichelle Nichols, a cast member from the original "Star Trek" series, shows the iconic Vulcan hand gesture from the series during an interview Friday, March 19, 2010, here. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Nichelle Nichols, a cast member from the original "Star Trek" series, autographs a cue card used for her slug line during an interview here Friday, March 19, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Nichelle Nichols, a cast member from the original "Star Trek" series, autographs a cue card used for her slug line during an interview here Friday, March 19, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson, the 4th Space Launch Squadron, director of operations, presents Nichelle Nichols with a unit patch and coin during her visit to Space Launch Complex-6 Friday, March 19, 2010, here. Ms. Nichols portrayed Lt. Uhura in the original "Star Trek" series and movies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson, the 4th Space Launch Squadron, director of operations, presents Nichelle Nichols with a unit patch and coin during her visit to Space Launch Complex-6 Friday, March 19, 2010, here. Ms. Nichols portrayed Lt. Uhura in the original "Star Trek" series and movies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Bryan Boyette)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Long-time U.S.S. Enterprise communication officer Lt. Uhura beamed down to Vandenberg Air Force Base March 19 to provide a futuristic vision to the earthlings responsible for space operations today.

Actress Nichelle Nichols, famous for her work on the television and film series "Star Trek," has long advocated for space programs as well as
minority recruitment in space operations.

"Space is the one endeavor we have engaged in, with so much time and effort, that has given back to humankind the most returnable benefits," she said. "We have gone forth into research and development and for every dollar that we've spent on space, humankind has benefited many, many, many times over."

Ms. Nichols has also given back to the space community, leading a NASA effort to recruit minorities and female candidates for the space agency's astronaut program. In 2009, she received a California Space Authority SpotBeam Award for her unique and outstanding contributions to the space enterprise community.

Having a person such as Ms. Nichols advocating for space programs is beneficial to the Air Force mission, said Lt. Col. Jenns Robertson, the 4th Space Launch Squadron director of operations.

"When folks think of space exploration, they think of 'Star Trek,'" Colonel Robertson said. "(The 'Star Trek' cast) is willing to advocate for the missions we accomplish out here, on the Cape and elsewhere. This allows us to communicate better with the American public on what we're doing out here."

Going beyond just informing people about space programs, Ms. Nichols encourages young men and women to get involved in space-related careers. The 77-year-old Ms. Nichols said young people should remember the program does not only need astronauts. When planning their future careers, young people should remember S.T.E.M: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Focusing on these specialties will ensure a future of which young people can be proud.

"It's not just a game, it's not just fame ... it is our future," she said. "The adventure is worth the strain and the adventure is worth the challenge."