By Kit Roberts,
Published by Unilad, 6 January 2024
A rocket will be launched into space carrying the remains of a number of famous people.
The expedition aims to create a ‘permanent memorial’ in space, with some of the remains being dropped on the Moon while the rest are taken out into outer space.
Scheduled to launch on January 8 at 2.18am, the rocket is a project by Texas-based company Celestis.
The DNA samples and cremations will be carried in capsules made of titanium and measuring 1/4 and 1/2 inch.
When the rocket takes off it will be carrying 330 sets of remains, of which 62 will be dropped on the Moon.
These will descend in a six-foot-tall and eight-foot-wide device contraption called the Peregrine Lunar Lander.
The remaining 268 capsules will be carried off into outer space where they will continue to orbit the Sun.
For the service, prices range from a few thousand dollars to a staggering $13,000.
Among those on board are the symbolic remains of US presidents, including those of George Washington, JFK, and Dwight D Eisenhower.
The remains of the former US presidents consist of locks of hair of each of them which were given by an anonymous donor.
Celestis CEO and Co-founder Charles Chafer said: “I’ve had a lot of firsts in my career, but this will be the first commercial deep space mission ever done – and hopefully it will be the first of many, many more over the next few centuries.”
Other people on board the flight include several members of the cast of Star Trek, including Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), James Doohan (Scotty), and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy).
It will also include remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
Chafer said: “We flew Gene on our very first mission in 1997 and Majel came to be a part of it, and she said to me, ‘When it’s my time, I’d like you to fly Gene and I together on a deep space mission.’
“And me, being 28 years old at the time and having no reason to believe we couldn’t do it, I said, ‘I would be happy to do that.’”
Sculptor and painter Luise Kaish will also be among those whose remains are on board the rocket.
Kaish died in 2013 aged 87, and expressed the wish that she would like some of her ashes sent into space.
Her daughter Melissa recalled her saying: “My dream is for my ashes to be buried in space.”
Melissa added: “I’m incredibly overwhelmed at the idea that it’s actually going to happen … I’m just really thrilled that her dream of the ultimate voyage will be fulfilled.”
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