Star Trek creator sent into orbit for first deep space burial


Nearly 200 separate remains, including those of the late Star Trek creator, his wife, and four other series cast members, will be part of an inaugural deep space mission to permanently orbit the Sun as their final resting place.

Celestis, a company that has been promoting space burial service since 1994, will launch the first-of-its-kind memorial spaceflight to take place in nearly 30 years.

It marks a new twist in space burials for the non-traditional Houston, Texas-based company.

"It's going to be the first and only repository of our civilization out in the universe…330 million kilometers out into space,” said Celestis President Colby Youngblood.

“No one's done that before,” he said.

Celestis already took part in NASA’s successful mission to send the cremated ashes of legendary scientist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker to the moon back in 1998 and has completed dozens of round-trip space flights since.

During the Voyager Memorial Spaceflight Mission, the company plans to send 196 capsules of cremated remains of people who have passed away, as well as some DNA of people who are still living.

Celestis space memorials DNA kit
Celestis memorial spaceflight DNA kit

The flight, set to launch sometime in 2024, will carry the ashes or DNA of notable individuals such as sci-fi legend and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who passed in 1991, and his wife of nearly 22 years, Majel Barrett Roddenberry.

DNA of their son, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry, now 49 years old, will also be flown into deep space, according to the company.

Majel Roddenberry, who passed in 2008 and often referred to by the media as the first "The First Lady of 'Trek," was well known for her own reoccurring role on the original Star Trek series as Nurse Christine Chapel, among other Star Trek characters she played over the years.

Majel also lent her unique sound to the franchise as the voice of the USS Enterprise's computer interface in both the series and several Star Trek movies.

Star Trek cast members also making their final trip include James Doohan (DECD 2005), who played the beloved character "Scotty," Nichelle Nichol (DECD 2022), known as the USS Enterprise crew member Lt. Uhura, and DeForest Kelley (DECD 1999), the starship's Dr. Leanord McCoy. aka "Bones."

Star Trek creator, wife, cast,
Majel and Gene Roddenberry, Image by Celestis. Star Trek cast, 1977. L to R. NASA Administrator Dr. James D. Fletcher; DeForest Kelley, (Dr. "Bones" McCoy); George Takei (Mr. Sulu); James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott); Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura); Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock); Gene Roddenberry (creator). Image by NASA.

Instead of getting "beamed" into space, the personal flight capsules will be catapulted into the universe by way of an explosive rocket launch to take place during a three-day memorial event at Florida's Cape Canaveral, the cradle of the American space program.

“We've got a hair follicle from George Washington, President Dwight Eisenhower, and President John F Kennedy are all on board that flight as well,” Youngblood said.

The rocket is aptly named the Vulcan Centaur.

Other notables making the journey in the afterlife include NASA’s first woman astrogeologist Mareta West and astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.; Masaru Tomita, two-time, all-star Japanese professional baseball player; and battlefield hero, bronze star, and Purple Heart recipient SSGT John James Cleaver.

The Celestis’ own Enterprise Flight will travel into deep space, beyond the Earth-Moon system, and past the James Webb telescope, to orbit around the Sun indefinitely.

Once the rocket makes it to its interplanetary destination, the most distant permanent human repository outpost will eventually be known as the Enterprise Station.

Celestis Memorial Spaceflights 750x375
Vulcan Centaur rocket. Image by United Launch Alliance.

The company also provides a real-time tracking tool for family and friends to keep tabs on their loved ones while their remains travel through deep space.

One couple from Arizona, who are also sending their DNA on the inaugural Voyager mission, called it “the ultimate road trip” and said they liked the idea of being “the furthest human genome from the planet."

"We all want to be immortal in some way, and this was an opportunity for us to be able to do something that no one else has done, to go where no one else has gone before,” the couple said.

The launch vehicle for the Voyager mission is being provided by the spacecraft engineering company United Launch Alliance.

Some may say the Celestis Enterprise Flight will not be the first deep space burial to take place in the 21st century, but it will be the first to permanently stay in orbit around the Sun.

The ashes of late American Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh (DECD.1997) – known for his discovery of Pluto in 1930 – were sent hurtling into the universe aboard NASA's New Horizons space probe in 2006.

The aluminum capsule containing Tombaugh’s remains were tracked passing Pluto’s orbit in 2015, and are still traveling through the galaxy, billions of miles from Earth, far, far away.


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Comments

Kris M Smith
prefix 10 months ago
Why was DeForest Kelley not mentioned in this article? His DNA is going up, too. Dastardly oversight!
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 10 months ago
Thanks for the comment, article has been updated!
John Davidson
prefix 11 months ago
This will be the third time some of the ashes of Gene Roddenberry have been into space. Some went up on STS-52 (1992) on Colombia and returned with them, and later on 21st Apr 1997 on a Celestial Spacecraft, this unfortunately de-orbitted and burned up on reentry with 7g of his ashes.
Jennifer ruiz
prefix 11 months ago
The first person to be sent to burial in space was the person who discovered Pluto buisness insider broke the story first.
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Yes, we had mentioned the late American Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh at the end of the article! Thanks for the comment!
Vicky Sheets
prefix 11 months ago
Just as long as their personal capsules, don’t make their way down to the Genesis planet. 😉🖖🏻
Allison Malcolm
prefix 11 months ago
Unless these burn up - these people are just adding to the space junk problem. Way to go - said no one ever.
Darren
prefix 11 months ago
My only comment is that Roddenberry’s wife wasn’t just a random somebody that had a famous a husband. She was Majel Barrett Roddenberry. She was the The first and original #1 & Nurse Chapel on ST:OS. She was the narrator, computers voice and Lwaxana Troi on ST:TNG. She helped Gene create a universe that everyone could believe was wonderful. So when it’s stated, “his wife” it’s kind of an insult. She has earned that ride into eternal slumber in space, just as much as Gene, Nichelle & James.
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Avery E.
prefix 11 months ago
If some 200 remains are going, and remains were previously sent to the moon and veyond, how is this couple's DNA going "where no one has gone before"?
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Jay
prefix 11 months ago
From the wording of this article it seems like everyone on this project thinks they're the first ones to send human remains to space as a form of burial, but I see no mention of Clyde Tombaugh's ashes aboard the New Horizons probe. If this is an error on the part of Cybernews, please rectify this.
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Ken Eidinger
prefix 11 months ago
Gene Roddenberry's first or second wife. His 2nd wife was not only on the pilot, but became a regular character (Nurse Chapel), and ultimately became the voice of The Enterprise in her many iterations.
Why not mention her?
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Robert Ingrao
prefix 11 months ago
Even tho I'm a huge trek fan, I think this is a waste of money and resources that could be better spent on something else. Sending a hair follicle into space? If it's not whole coffins like in Space Seed, what's the point?
MarkuS AlleN
prefix 11 months ago
Imagine the possibility that there are far more advanced civilizations out there, one that finds their remains two hundred years from now, and out of curiosity and with advanced technology, therly bring them back to life through cloning. Consider the fact that there are millions of stars similar to our own sun in our galaxy alone. Distant stars that have planets that may have life, intelligent life, that is centuries ahead of us. It may seem like science fiction now, and no doubt for some 'laughable' (because for them, the earth is flat), but then, it might be 'possible'.
Kjm
prefix 11 months ago
Not two but THREE cast members are there. Gene Roddenberry married Majell Barret who was Luaxana Troi in TNG and I forget who in TOS. Plus she is in every series and movie as the computer voice.
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Libby W
prefix 11 months ago
Majel Roddenberry is a notable figure and is Star Trek royalty in her own right. She deserves more than to be referred to only as “his wife” in this article.
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Mark
prefix 11 months ago
Gene Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barret, is also pretty legendary in the Star Trek world. She played many characters, across many Star Trek series, including Number One in the pilot episode, Nurse Chapel in the original series, the voice of the computer in several different series, Lwaxana Troi in TNG and DS9. I think she deserves a mention other than “Gene Roddenberry's wife".
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Victor
prefix 11 months ago
Someday they're going to have to clean all this stuff out of orbit. It's already getting hazardous with debris and dead satellites.
Jobu Tupaki
prefix 11 months ago
« The flight … will carry the ashes … of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who passed in 1991, and his wife. »

She has a name! It's Majel Barrett. I credit Gene Roddenberry's creativity originating the series ... but Majel Barrett will always be 100% more loveable and memorable. Just ask Odo.

Please don't gloss over the impressive achievements of amazing women like Majel Barrett as though they're merely accessories to more noteworthy men.
Stefanie Schappert
prefix 11 months ago
Thanks for your comment. The article has been updated.
Edward K
prefix 11 months ago
I'm not sure that "burial" is the correct term to use, perhaps "launch" is better.
Bruce Parsons
prefix 11 months ago
Right now, DNA of Clyde Tombaugh is beyond the orbit of Pluto, having passed that way on a probe 8 years ago, so no, these people will not be the most distant from earth.

But, yes, it is still interesting.
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