Until a few weeks ago, very few knew that the ashes of James Doohan, known for playing Montgomery Scott ‘Scotty’, the chief engineer of the Companies, in the original “Star Trek” series, have been on the International Space Station for twelve years. There’s a good reason for that.
As The Times explained, when Doohan died in 2005, his family repeatedly asked for permission to grant his final wish to put his ashes in space, but the idea was repeatedly denied by authorities. It looked like the situation would continue, but three years later, in October 2008, The ashes flew on board a Soyuz TMA-13 during one of the first space trips to the International Space Station. Secret.
Richard Garriott, video game designer and entrepreneur, managed to hand over some of Doohan’s ashes without anyone knowing and hid them in the Columbus module of the ISS. As far as we know, they are still there.
The (constantly growing) list of space burials
However, this was not the first time that a “space burial” had been carried out. In other words, this isn’t the first time ashes have been sent into space. Neil R. Jones wrote a small science fiction novel (“The Jameson Satellite”) in 1931 in which the subject was addressed, however we have to wait until 1997. That year, a plane left the Canary Islands carrying a Pegasus missile that “put into orbit” the remains of 24 people until they re-entered the atmosphere in May 2002 in northeastern Australia.
Space burials? With “buried” (“buried a corpse”) something similar happens with the word “earth” (“land, after a descent maneuver, on solid ground or on a runway or surface that serves” for this purpose “): There is one Reference to “Earth” which does not work very well on space problems, however it is the current mandate for that type of “act”.
Celestis, the company that organized this first trip, continues to conduct “space burials” (including for pets). Space X is in business too. However, The “fever” of space burial doesn’t stop there. That same year, Eugene Shoemaker, one of the fathers of planetary research and chief geologist behind the Apollo project, passed away. Hence in 1999 NASA itself transported some of its ashes to the surface of the moon. It rests there.
Over the years the list has gotten very long and everything seems to indicate that there will be a lot more with the arrival of the new private space agencies. However, if I need to highlight one more thing, I’d tell you the case of Clyde Tombaugh. the astronomer who discovered Pluto. Oddly enough, Tombaugh died in 97 too, but had to wait a little longer for his ashes to get into space. More precisely from January 19, 2006, when the New Horizons began his way to the (dwarf) planet he had discovered himself. He may be the farthest from Earth.
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