Tomorrow is a historic day in space flight, with the launch of the first commercial supply vehicle for the International Space Station. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off Saturday morning and it has just been revealed that part of the cargo includes cremated remains of Star Trek’s original Scotty James Doohan, who passed away in 2005. More info and an exclusive statement from the Doohan family below. [UPDATE – Launch scrubbed at last second, postponed until May 22]
UPDATE: Launch Aborted, Postponed Until May 22
The countdown clock ran to T-0 at 4:55 a.m. EDT, when the rocket engines lit briefly, and then no lift off occurred. According to SpaceX, “Early data indicates that the flight computer detected slightly high combustion chamber pressure on engine 5, which prompted the computer to abort the countdown. We are reviewing the data.” Due to the launch window, a new attempt could not be made today. The next launch attempt will be on May 22, assuming all issues have been sorted by then.
Doohan’s ashes headed to space
While Saturday morning’s SpaceX launch has been planned well in advance, the news that the mission contains cargo from Celestis (the company that sends cremated remains to space) had been kept a secret, until today (first reported by ABC). This launch is actually a bit of a do-over for Celesits and sending some of James Doohan’s ashes into space. Back in August 2008 a different SpaceX rocket failed to reach orbit and crashed back to Earth. However, Celestis actually had back up ashes and those (along with partial remains of dozens of others including astronaut Gordon Cooper) have been loaded onto the Dragon capsule atop the Falcon 9 rocket which is set to launch at 4:55 AM (Eastern).
Doohan in his last appearance as Scotty ("Star Trek Generations")
– once again set for a journey into space
James’ son Chris Doohan, on behalf of the family, emailed TrekMovie the following statement on the launch:
I don’t look at the launch as finally putting my dad to rest. We did that a long time ago. I guess I would file it under unfinished business. Is it a cool thing? Absolutely. Is it something he wanted, for sure.
I guess they wanted to keep it a secret because of the failed attempts in the past. Truthfully, it was a secret that was kept from me as well. Likely because they didn’t want us to go through the emotional roller-coaster ride again.
Chris also confirmed that James Doohan’s widow Wende Doohan will be at Cape Canaveral in Florida to watch the launch. The launch will also be webcaset live at www.spacex.com.
Here is a video from NASA on the launch tomorrow.