Ashes of Star Trek's 'Scotty' Primed for Space Launch
The ashes of Star Trek's Scotty and one of NASA's first astronauts are once more bound for the final frontier, this time aboard a privately-built rocket to launch from New Mexico this month.
Portions of the cremated remains of actor James Doohan, the plucky engineer of television's Starship Enterprise, and Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper are set for an April 28 launch aboard a SpaceLoft XL rocket built by the private firm UP Aerospace.
The space shot - dubbed SL-2 - will lift off from Spaceport America, a state-funded launch site near Upham, New Mexico and about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of the city of Las Cruces.
The remains of Doohan, Cooper and more than 200 people from over 10 different countries will ride the UP Aerospace rocket as part of the Legacy of Flight memorial, a spaceflight arranged for the Houston-based firm Celestis, Inc. A public memorial honoring those whose remains will launch spaceward is set for April 27 at the New Mexico Space History Museum in Alamagordo.
"Space remains the domain of the few, the dream of the many," Celestis CEO Charles Chafer said in a statement. "With Celestis, the dream of spaceflight and the desire to take part in the opening of the space frontier can be realized - and is available to everyone."
The planned April 28 liftoff will mark the second SpaceLoft XL flight for UP Aerospace, which first launched the 20-foot (six-meter) booster on Sept. 25 though it failed to reach space. Since then, a series of modifications and design changes have been instituted to improve the rocket, UP Aerospace officials have said.
The suborbital rocket is designed to haul 110-pound (50-kilogram) payloads to altitudes of up to 140 miles (225 kilometers).
Celestis officials said that, in addition to the cremated remains, the launch will feature the firm's Earth Rise service to loft capsules and modules designed to parachute back to Earth for recovery and presentation to family members.
Inspirational messages hailing Cooper and Doohan will also be launched during the flight alongside messages from students in Japan and the U.S., star dedications and a music album composed and performed for Celestis by the Russian band Cyclotimia, the firm - a subsidiary of Houston's Space Services, Inc. - added.
Celestis will donate portions of the flight's proceeds to the Frank Redd Scholarship Fund for aerospace students, New Mexico's Zia Pueblo Scholarship fund and Arizona's Cowboys for Kids, one of Doohan's favorite charities.
UP Aerospace officials said the spaceflight will also carry a series of commercial payloads, as well as experiments from U.S. universities, high schools and elementary schools.
"Our long-term commitments with Spaceport America and Celestis are essential elements that are enabling huge growth of this new emerging commercialization of space industry," Jerry Larson, president of UP Aerospace, said in a statement.
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