Doohan’s Ashes Fail To Make Orbit + Statement From Family

Over the weekend a SpaceX rocket that was carrying ashes from the late James Doohan failed to reach orbit. This was not the first attempt at this for the Doohan family or SpaceX and there is likely to be another try to send the original Scotty into the final frontier. TrekMovie has statement from the Doohan family below.


Statement from Doohan family
Friend-of-TrekMovie Chris Doohan sent in this statement from his brother Ehrich on behalf of the family:

My father loved engineering. Anything he could do to visit NASA, an aircraft carrier, a submarine, he’d do it. There was no end to the enjoyment he received when people would come up to him and say, “I’m an engineer because of you.” So when a company in Texas offered to launch his remains into orbit, we could only accept.

It’s been just over 3 years since my dad, James Doohan, passed on. In that time, there have been many memorials, the most recent of which to commemorate Linlithgow, Scotland, as the future birthplace of Scotty. But his launch into space was the most publicized, and it was to be the most significant.

There have been many attempts to send my father on his way. On Saturday, the latest launch attempt by SpaceX, with a portion of my father’s remains aboard, failed to achieve orbit. While there are many complicated reasons why this is a disappointment, mine is simple: I’d like to finish saying goodbye.

Every launch attempt is like reliving his funeral. There’s a lot of pomp and ceremony, and a retelling of his deeds in life. But at the end of these funerals, something goes awry, the body doesn’t get buried, and you know you’re going to have to come back to do it over again.

I’m not laying blame on anyone for the delays. It’s difficult, living on the cusp of technology. Where most of us lament the premature obsolescence of our cell phones, there are those few of us who’ve pinned the memories of our family members on a rocket, hoping it will touch the sky.

My dad believed in human ingenuity, and he believed in mankind’s destiny beyond the exosphere. That it would take several attempts in these early stages to successfully achieve orbit would not have phased him. I can accept this, because of who he was, and because he knew it was all a part of progress.

For those reasons, I know that his spirit will persevere, and others will keep those launch attempts coming. The act of sending a loved one’s remains into space will someday be commonplace, even if we have to book a space flight ourselves to make it happen. That’s the kind of progress my father believed in.

But I’m not sure I can hang on until then. Grieving can’t wait for the pace of progress, and I have to say goodbye now. So when news of the next launch rolls around, please don’t ask me about it; I won’t be paying attention.

If my father has anything to do with it, though, I’m sure that ship will get where it’s going.

TrekMovie will provide updates on any future attempted launches.

For a statement from SpaceX on the failure visit the official site

Doohan in his last appearance as Scotty ("Star Trek Generations")


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Scotty was THE MAN… And of course, a miracle worker…


This is a sad day for the Doohan family and for Trek fans alike. However, it is well-known that sometimes success occurs only after instances of failure. My best wishes are offered to the Doohans as they look forward to the next launch and, one hopes, the one that will yield them the success they desire.

Too bad Scotty couldn’t be the engineer on this project. Jimmy’d be up and back already.

Maybe NASA could shuttle (no pun intended, honest!) the remains for the families.

prolonging a family’s grieving process is bad enough, but to do so in the public eye only beggars belief.

you’d think someone from nasa could step in here to ensure mr doohan’s ashes receive a proper send off on the next shuttle mission?

i’m also sad to admit that i’ve not had a chance to make it to linlithgow to visit the memorial there, which is a shame since it’s only about half an hour or so away from me

Hence the problem with private corporations attempting space. Multi-national government agencies, United Federation of Planets, NASA, is the future of space.

Let’s pray NASA could offer to take up Sir Doohan’s ashes one, final time.

For clarification purposes, you guys should note that the image there is of Doohan’s last chronological appearance as Scotty. The last time he actually played the character was in “Generations”.

Wasn’t Generations the last time Doohan played Scotty on screen? Someone might want to fix that caption…

Maybe the Doohan’s should get in touch with Richard Branson?

I can’t believe NASA didn’t OFFER to take his ashes. All this time I just assumed they did it.

The original cast of Star Trek are some of the few people most associated with “space” on Earth.

NASA could use some good ink. Hell, they could use ink, period.

For some NASA bureaucrat to not think of the PR home run they could hit by sending Scotty off to his reward is stupefying. SCOTTY fer crissakes!!

With all due respect to John from Cincinnati, this is more like the government I know and love.

Chris, it chokes me up to know what you must be going through. Our thoughts are with you, and we sympathize completely. Please take some comfort in knowing that progress will be made – it is inevitable. And like you said, you’re dad knew that.


I am disappointed right there with the Doohan family.

I am sure James Doohan reached the REAL final frontier 3 years ago.


Ah, that’s too bad. I’m sure they’ll get him up there eventually, though.

Yeah, it seems odd that NASA hasn’t stepped up. I bet if they polled their engineers to see how many of them are in those jobs today as a result of inspiration from Mr. Doohan, they’d see what an appropriate tribute it would be.

I agree.
NASA, step up and help out this family. No one need remind you what an inspiration James Doohan has been to people in the aerospace fields.
Put him up with the next regularly scheduled flight and launch him with the spring-loaded launcher whenever the payload doors happen to be open. This doesn’t have to be a multi-million dollar venture. I’d bet many of the shuttle support staff would volunteer time to set this up planet-side and make it a simple “press-the-button” thing for the crew.

NASA, please do the right thing.


#9 Beam

I don’t think Virgin gets high enough on their orbit to make it work. Good thought though

12. Redjac, you said it.

He’s up there already, waiting. And probably tinkering on sometime in the meantime.

My condolences to the Doohans.

To all those arguing that NASA should step in… they can’t, it’s against the law. NASA is forbidden from offering services which are in direct competition with commercial services. This was part of the Commercial Space legislation enacted after the Challenger Disaster and was designed to foster private industry investment in space. Things like NASA offering to do for free what some California startup wants a few thousand dollars to do would have a very negative effect on the budding industry. In short, if private industry can do it, NASA can’t. There are a few gray areas for things only NASA can realistically do, but space burials aren’t one of them.

Roddenberry’s ashes flew as personal property of one of the astronauts on STS-52, but it wasn’t made public until well after the fact (by Majel, if memory serves) and there were no “Space Burial” companies in 1992.

It appears there are no trust-worthy “Space Burial” companies now either

I met your Dad, a kind and generous man. I’ll always cherish the memory. We all know he will get where he belongs sooner or later.

14 XAI.

You’re right. God, how many thousands of people went into engineering because of him! This really is the pits for such a legendary man and character.

Beam Scotty up already.

All hopes to Chris Doohan. Don’t worry, you can’t keep a good engineer down. Scotty will beam up, and James Doohan will live on.

The worst part about watching this live was the fact that the rocket aborted after firing its rocket engine the first time around. They recycled and made a second attempt 30 minutes later. Nobody went to see why the rocket just shut down on the first attempt, they just crunched some numbers, recycled, launched, and boom.

That being said, given the description of the failure that has leaked to several space-related sites, my bet is on something stupid like a bolt that failed to blow, as the failure took place right around MECO/Stage Separation.

This was SpaceX’s third failed launch attempt… here’s hoping they learn.

Concerning Roddenberry’s ashes, they weren’t left in space, but returned to earth on the shuttle flight. Later, a small amount of his ashes were shot into orbit where they remained for six or seven years before falling back to earth.


The Doohan family really deserves to “have closure” in their grieving process. I think that if SpaceX wasn’t 100% confident, & competent in their abilities to get the job done, then they shouldn’t have taken on the task. This is a major embarrassment to Trek fans, the Doohan family, the franchise, & humanity in general. I think that SpaceX should stop their haphazzard attempts, & let another organization launch, & deploy the remains. If not NASA, then perhaps Richard Branson’s people? I remember when they lost the remains in the desert for a month, a year, or two ago. That was bad enough! Admit it SpaceX, you guys can’t get it done. Give the remains to someone who can, the first time, & in doing so give Mr. Doohan the dignified burial in space that he warrants.

Sorry to hear about that Chris, I saw your dad a few times at the conventions and he was always gracious and fun there have only been 3 people outside of my family who I was sad and cried when they died, De Kelley, Ronald Reagan and your dad. All great people. I wonder if NASA could take them to Mars? There must be someone else who can do the job for you and would probably do it for free since they know who it is, I would do it for free, out of appreciation for your dad defending the free countries of the world during WWII and inspiring thousands later in his life. Who knows, someone might come along for you guys.

What did the caption say before it was fixed?

If you read Jimmy Doohan’s book, you’ll find he spells his son’s name E-R-I-C (not the Germanic version you have at the top of the page). You might want to fix that too?
Let’s hope for a successful launch next time.


I’m sorry that had to happen to the family but they don’t have a problem selling dilithium crystals on ebay using Doohans name and milking it for all its worth.

Darth “crystal ballz” Ballz

Yeah. what’s up with that? What a ripoff. I hardly believe it was used on the series.

Has NASA forgotten what it owes to James Doohan? How many great space engineers were inspired by him? I say the best were. And he always promoted NASA. Can’t believe they didn’t do him that honor but would let a private company step in.

And that really goes to show us – privatization of transport or any other public services is WRONG. They just never get you any where.

A friend

That’s sad news, but don’t give up hope. I’m confident his spirit is alive within the hearts of is familiy and all the people for whom he will never die as Scotty.

One of my finest Trek Days was when I attended a convention in Germany and Mr. Doohan entertained the audience with some wonderful and witty stories, and afterwards he was giving patiently autographs – one of these days that you treasure and cherish.

“All I can say is – they don’t make them like they used ta…”

Xplodin’, considering the size of the SpaceX program, that it’s the first totally new rocket engine system designed by the USA in 30 years, and the amount of money spent, it’s amazing they’ve done what they have done so far. If you look at the development of every major launch system (with the fortunate exception of the Saturn V rocket), they’ve gone through a period of launch attempts that failed, often spectacularly. This was only the third attempt at a launch; the first failed on the first stage, but the second nearly achieved orbit before the second stage fuel slosh caused issues. This third failure is actually a bit of a surprise as the system that handles stage separation performed flawlessly the last time, but even the tried and true launch systems fail from time to time. What’s also cool is that SpaceX is totally transparent to the public, with updates and analysis posted to be public by the president of the company – something I’d just love to see at NASA, but like any government bureaucracy, they have an innate fear of openness because it keeps people from covering their butts.

As for NASA being the only people that should launch rockets.. uh, no. I’m pretty sure if the push for private spaceflight had started in the 70’s rather than the 90’s we’d be much farther along in everyday access to space. NASA is too cumbersome to attempt pushing the envelope anymore – witness the “back to the past” “new” launch system for Orion.

Father Rob, regarding the quick abort turnaround, this is one of the requirements for the SpaceX system. Having to shut down and spend days or months in analysis of systems after an abort is not commercially feasible. It costs money to reserve a launch window, and obviously it costs money when things are sitting around waiting to get launched. One of the benchmarks of the new systems will be quickly overcoming these kind of glitches. Imagine if Scotty told Kirk, “Well, the injector systems are not working properly. We’ll have to shut down the engines, dissect everything, have meetings and failure analysis reports generated, put it all together, run through simulations, and we’ll try again in three months.”. I don’t think so. This is actually the second quick abort turnaround – on the second launch, a software abort on the first stage was quickly deemed a non-issue and they launched 30 minutes later, and the first stage performed fine. The abort on Saturday was also due to an indicator that was unrelated to the cause of Saturday’s failure.

I’ve been following SpaceX from the beginning. I think they’re finding it harder going than they thought, and they were caught off guard by the apparent failure of a standard item on Saturday rather than a systemic failure that could be expected by systems never deployed before (the causes of the previous two failures). But they’re quick learners, and they’ve achieved so much at this point I can’t see them not eventually succeeding. Certainly NASA has reviewed their program a few times and given it passing grades.

#9 not a bad idea, after all, Branson is a trekkie/trekker….

Sad news anyhow… thoughts are with the Doohans

I definitely agree NASA should step up to the plate on this…

How big of a deal could it be to take Mr.Doohan’s ashes up there?

It would be the human thing to do.

It might have been wiser to place a higher-than-normal payload such as Mr. Doohan’s ashes on a launch sometime after the system had been proven reliable.

31- I don’t know how transparent I would consider SpaceX. They cut the feed on the launch before the breakup began, and then immediately killed their webcast. It was several hours before a text message was posted on the SpaceX site.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope they persevere, but I also wish they’d be more open.

To borrow (and rewrite) from astronaut Jim Lovell’s mother on “Apollo 13”:

If they could make a washing machine fly, my Jimmy could engineer it!

Godspeed Mr. Doohan!

God Bless to the Doohan family!

“This was part of the Commercial Space legislation enacted after the Challenger Disaster and was designed to foster private industry investment in space. Things like NASA offering to do for free what some California startup wants a few thousand dollars to do would have a very negative effect on the budding industry.”

You’re doin’ a heckuva job, private industry.

With all do respect, don’t you all forget that NASA has had several of its shuttles blow up with all hands killed. And plenty of other blunders. Their track record isn’t much better.

SpaceX is a start up company and they are pioneering a new field.
It is terribly sad that they have encountered these issues now, but be glad no one has died… unlike in NASA’s failures.

I am sorry for the Doohan family that they must endure this.
I hope the next launch is a success.

I think it’s silly to blame private space ventures for any failures. I fully support them, by the way. Once they work through things, I think companies like this will be very successful. Like with anything else, there’s growing pains.

I don’t believe government has to run everything.

Uh, BrandonR & Gorn Captain, that picture IS from Generations. The man behind Scotty is Captain Harriman and takes place right after Kirk tells Scott, “You know, I’m glad you’re an engineer. With tact like that, you’d make a lousy psychiatrist.” Don’t believe me? Go watch it.

Never ceases to amaze me how there are so many people who claim to be such huge fans and know where every little bolt goes on the Enterprise and yet they can’t even identify a pic like that. Reminds me of that online Trek trivia game and the “answers” people were apparently giving it. Sad.

As for Mr. Doohan, I just don’t get why anyone would want to go through the grief over and over again. Why not simply scatter his ashes in Linlithgow? It would make a little more sense to me. It just doesn’t feel right to keep moving around his remains, separating them, putting a little up here and a little over there. I mean, it’d be like desecrating one’s grave. Not to mention embarrassing. Honor who he was. Put the man’s ashes to rest.

^^^^^^^ #40, THe Moseph, That’s because the picture has since been changed. They were correct about the picture being wrong at the time.

Scotty’s ghost overheard saying, “Argh! We donnah hae the power, Captain!”

/It had to be said

“With all do respect, don’t you all forget that NASA has had several of its shuttles blow up with all hands killed”

Several? I only know of two but maby you know something i don’t?

Darth “Work release” Ballz

31. GraniteTrek… “considering the size of the SpaceX program, that it’s the first totally new rocket engine system designed by the USA in 30 years,”

No, that would be the Rocketdyne (now Pratt & Whitney) RS-68 engine which powers the Delta IV and NASA’s upcoming Ares V. RS-68 grew out of the Space Transportation Main Engine program begun in the late ’80s, early ’90s for the abandoned National Launch System.

37. Underpants Monster… “You’re doin’ a heckuva job, private industry.”

Private industry is doing okay with Atlas, Delta, Pegasus and Taurus. It’s the budget rocket company SpaceX that is having problems.

38. Admiral… “With all do respect, don’t you all forget that NASA has had several of its shuttles blow up with all hands killed. And plenty of other blunders. Their track record isn’t much better.”

Yes, it is. The Shuttle’s success rate is around 98%, among the best in the field (better than Europe’s Ariane V or Russia’s Proton). SpaceX is 0-for-3.

#27 Darth Ballz

Kind of a callous comment at this moment, don’t you think?

Chris I just wanted to tell you I met your father at a fan store called Starbase Central in Mountain View, California back in 1979 or 1980. I was a child at the time but I remember how gracious and friendly your father was to me. I will always have that personal memory of him and will never forget it. I am also aware of his service to the world in World War II which not all fans might not be aware of. He was a hero in every sense of the word.

I’m so proud of myself…I didn’t cry while reading this

XD I’m so emotional

Thorny wrote, “No, that would be the Rocketdyne (now Pratt & Whitney) RS-68 engine which powers the Delta IV and NASA’s upcoming Ares V. RS-68 grew out of the Space Transportation Main Engine program begun in the late ’80s, early ’90s for the abandoned National Launch System.”

Seconded. The RS-68 is also being uprated for the Ares V; there are “A” and “B” versions. Interestingly, the Saturn V-class Ares V has recently experienced a major redesign in which its total height was increased by 20 feet, an extra RS-68 (for a total of six such engines) was added to the first stage, the RS-68 was uprated, and the SRB’s were increased in length to yield significantly greater boost capability.

The problem is that the Ares V may never see the light of day if NASA continues to be funded at starvation levels. Senator John Glenn has said that Project Constellation amounts to an unfunded mandate.

NASA has many problems, of that there is no doubt. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be too much to expect that an exception to the “no compete” rule could be made such that the small capsule containing Mr. Doohan’s remains could be carried as part of the next Shuttle mission. The capsule could then be manually released into space during a spacewalk. I believe that the next mission is STS-125, the last mission to Hubble. The Shuttle would be an extremely high orbit relative to its usual trajectory. A release of such a capsule, in the a suitable direction and at the right speed so as not to pose a threat to the HST, would be fairly long-lived and achieve something Celestis. as I understand it, could not possibly accomplish with currently available private rockets: Orbit around the Earth.

A golf ball was recently released in a similar fashion on a Shuttle mission to the ISS.

#48 Hat Rick

Did the golf ball company pay for the release or was it free? It could be illegal!!! LOL

#27 Darth Ballz

Kind of a callous comment at this moment, don’t you think?

If the man had just died then yes I would agree with you but this is diffrent.
I just don’t feel that a person who sells stuff using his fathers name is feeling THAT bad about what happened and who is “getting over” his fathers passing?

Darth “Dollaz” Ballz