James Doohan, Star Trek’s Montgomery “Scotty Scott, had one final trip into space, three years after he passed away in 2005. On Christmas, the story of a clandestine plan to bring some of the actor’s ashes to the International Space Station was finally revealed.
Doohan made it to the final frontier
On Christmas Day, the UK’s The Times revealed that in 2008 entrepreneur Richard Garriott smuggled some of Doohan’s ashes to the ISS on his 12-day mission as a private astronaut. The clandestine operation was planned along with Doohan’s son Chris, with the approval of the Doohan family.
The plan had Garriott hiding a laminated card with Doohan’s photo and some of his ashes under cladding of the floor of the station’s Columbus module. According to The Times, Doohan’s ashes have “traveled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times, after his ashes were hidden secretly on the International Space Station.”
“It was completely clandestine… His family were very pleased that the ashes made it up there but we were all disappointed we didn’t get to talk about it publicly for so long. Now enough time has passed that we can,” Garriott tells The Times. “As far as I know, no one has ever seen it there and no one has moved it. James Doohan got his resting place among the stars.”
Garriott’s 2008 ISS smuggling operation was actually the third attempt to bring James Doohan’s ashes into space. In 2007, some of his ashes flew on a suborbital rocket, and in August 2008 there was a failed attempt aboard a SpaceX rocket (the company successfully launched some of Doohan’s ashes into space in 2012). Wanting to fulfill his father’s request to be laid to rest in space, Chris Doohan reached out to Garriott shortly before he was set to launch into space in October 2008.
Because the last-minute request came after everything Garriott had planned to bring on the trip had already been logged, there was a concern about adding the ashes, so it was decided “in an abundance of caution” that the plan would be kept secret. “Richard said ‘We’ve got to keep this hush hush for a little while’ and here we are 12 years later. What he did was touching—it meant so much to me, so much to my family and it would have meant so much to my dad,” Chris Doohan told The Times.
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