Saturday, May 19, 2007

They Found Scotty's Ash. No Klingons Spotted.

You may remember that, at the end of April, I had a post about a company called Celestis launching a rocket into space containing the ashes of James Doohan (who played "Scotty" in Star Trek), Gordon Cooper (the early NASA astronaut), and about 200 other people into space. Then, a week ago, I posted about how the rocket had been lost in the mountains of New Mexico.

Well, they found the rocket, and its payload is safe and sound. Scotty made it back in one piece (as close to "one piece" as a lipstick-sized canister of a few grams of his ashes could be):

Yes, the ashes of two notable legends of space flight and space fiction were kept in little metal lipstick cases. Not terribly "manly," but understandable. The only trick is getting everything through the case's little "ashhole."

The radio transmitters had come off during the descent, thus leading the searchers astray, when, in truth, the rocket had come down only a mile away from where they intended -- not in the mountainous areas, but in a nice, flat area of New Mexico. The ashes were recovered, proving that Celestic can tell the difference between Scotty's ash and a hole in the ground, and returned the remains to the families, along with souvenirs. There had also been some student experiments onboard.

Now, none of the previous articles had said that the ashes were supposed to return to earth. The purpose had apparently been to send the ashes into low orbit and then back down to earth.

Big Frickin' deal.

Man, if my ashes were going to be sent up into freakin' space, I'd want them to stay there. How lame is it that they came back down – on purpose!

But the company is going to redeem itself. At a later date they will send Doohan's and Cooper's ashes back up to stay, until they eventually burn up upon re-entry. Much more respectable, if I may say so. A fiery re-entry, like the Enterprise burning up in the atmosphere of the Genesis Planet in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." Oh yeah. Self-destruct, baby!

Doohan died on July 20, 2005, on the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Cooper died on October 4, 2004, the same day SpaceShipOne made its second official qualifying flight and won the Ansari X-Prize. Ironies abound.

And what would Gordo and Doohan say about the next flight and its cost if they were still alive? Gordo would give a thumbs-up, I think, and say "No bucks – no Buck Rogers."

And Doohan? I'll let his character say it for him: "Any man who could perform such a feat, I wo'd na dare disappoint. She'll launch on time. And she'll be ready." -- Scotty, Star Trek: The Motion Picture

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