The late James Doohan, who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Star Trek: The Original Series, had his ashes secretly smuggled to the International Space Station in 2008 and is officially resting among the stars.As reported by The Times, Richard Garriott – the creator of both the Ultima series and the term MMORPG – has revealed that he smuggled James Doohan’s ashes aboard the ISS in 2008 during a 12-day, $30 million mission as a private astronaut.
“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,” he told The Times.
Doohan passed away in 2005 at the age of 85. The World War II veteran starred in the original Star Trek series from 1966 to 1969 and subsequent films and sported his trademark Scottish accent even though he was Canadian.
One of the most well-known phrases associated with him – “Beam me up, Scotty” – is one of the most iconic popular culture sayings from Star Trek and beyond, and was even the name of Doohan’s autobiography despite no one in the series ever actually saying the exact quote.
In 2007, some of Doohan’s ashes were flown to the edge of space on a suborbital rocket before falling and getting lost for three weeks in a mountain range. In 2008, prior to the successful mission, a sample that was meant to go into the Earth’s orbit was destroyed when the rocket failed.
Doohan’s son Chris wouldn’t give up and contacted Garriott days before his $30 million trip to the ISS and asked him to fulfill his “father’s request to be laid to rest among the stars.”
“I said ‘I’m in quarantine in Kazakhstan . . . but if you can get the ashes to me, I’ll find a way of getting them aboard.’ A couple of days before flight, this package arrived and I made a plan,” Mr Garriott said.
Garriott printed three cards with a photograph of Doohan, laminated them with a bit of his ashes, and hid one of them inside his flight data file. The file had clearance to fly, but the ashes apparently did not.
“Everything that officially goes on board is logged, inspected and bagged — there’s a process, but there was no time to put it through that process,” Garriott said. “The concern afterwards was that it could disrupt relations because I didn’t have permission . . . so in an abundance of caution I was asked to tell the family ‘Let’s not make a big deal out of it publicly’.”
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Chris Doohan, who took over the role of Scotty in 2013 for the Star Trek Continues webseries, shared his gratitude for what Garriott did for his father and their family.
“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,” Doohan said. “My dad had three passions: space, science and trains. He always wanted to go into space.”
“As far as I know, no one has ever seen it there and no one has moved it,” Garriott concluded. “James Doohan got his resting place among the stars.”
Image Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.
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