DNA from 4 American presidents will launch to deep space

a rocket launches in a large plume of smoke
A ULA rocket launches a Celestis Enterprise flight. (Image credit: ULA)

DNA from four former United States presidents will be going to space.

Texas-based space burial company Celestis will honor George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan by adding their symbolic remains to the aerospace firm's upcoming deep space remembrance Enterprise Flight, along with several deceased "Star Trek" legends and science fiction superstars. The flight was announced in a Celestis blog post on Feb. 20, President's Day

In addition to the cremated remains and DNA samples of Nichelle Nichols, DeForest Kelley, "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry, "Star Trek" engineer James "Scotty" Doohan and "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" VFX master Douglas Trumbull and several others, these presidential offerings will launch sometime this year in special capsules inside a United Launch Alliance Vulcan rocket.

Related: 'Star Trek' memorial flight adds 2 more names to its Enterprise mission

Memorial capsules headed for deep space. (Image credit: Celestis Inc.)

Here are details from Celestis' blog post:

Celestis, Inc., the pioneer and global leader in memorial spaceflights, announced today that in honor of Presidents’ Day and some of the nation's greatest leaders, they will be launching what we believe to be authenticated DNA of American Presidents George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan on their upcoming historic Enterprise Flight, humanity's first deep space time capsule. This, in turn, will make it the first time in history that any president has gone to space in any fashion symbolically or otherwise.  

These hair samples, which were originally from the Louis Mushro collection, along with the associated Certificates of Authenticity, were gifted to Celestis by an anonymous donor for the purpose of being included on a deep space mission. Louis Mushro was a well-known celebrity hair collector and appraiser who built a global reputation as the expert in this field before his passing in 2014. These hair samples have been in a climate-controlled facility for several years in preparation for this mission. 

The space burial company Celestis will launch a Star Trek mission carrying 150 capsules with cremated human remains and DNA on the first flight of the Vulcan Centaur rocket by the United Launch Alliance. (Image credit: Celestis)

"Our Enterprise Flight is an historic mission by any standard," Charles M. Chafer, Co-Founder & CEO of Celestis, Inc., said in the company's blog post. "The overarching goal of Celestis is to assist human expansion throughout the solar system. By adding the DNA of these American icons to Enterprise, we establish a precursor for future human missions, and add to the historical record of human exploration of deep space."

This past November, Celestis included two more legacy names to their tribute journey with the inclusion of remains for Greg Jein, the VFX wizard who created many "Star Trek" series models, and "Star Trek" producer Robert H. Justman, who was known as Gene Rodenberry's "right hand man." 

Celestis' first-ever Enterprise Flight is expected to travel from 93 million miles to 186 million miles (150 million to 300 million kilometers) into deep space beyond the Earth-moon system. Their honorary memorial mission will include over 200 flight capsules containing cremated ash remains, DNA material, personal messages and heartfelt greetings from international clients on an unforgettable voyage. 

Scientists adding DNA capsules for the 2023 Enterprise Flight (Image credit: Celestis Inc.)

Vulcan's main mission will be nudging the Pittsburgh aerospace company Astrobotic's Peregrine lunar lander towards the moon's surface. The Vulcan Centaur's upper stage will then venture further into deep space, eventually entering orbit around the sun and becoming humanity's most distant outpost called Enterprise Station.

The 2023 Enterprise Flight will also be carrying two prototype satellites for Amazon's internet constellation named Project Kuiper.  For more details on Celestis' services, visit their official site.

Follow us @Spacedotcom, or on Facebook and Instagram. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.