Scotty (briefly) returns to space

By Phil Plait | April 28, 2007 3:35 pm

Jimmy Doohan, the actor who played Scotty on Star Trek, had a small portion of his ashes launched very briefly into space this morning. The rocket, supplied by UP Aerospace, went up about 72 miles, which is officially considered to be "space", so there you go.

I’m still not sure what to think of all this (my original musings are here). But in the end it does help promote space travel, and that’s probably good.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Time Sink

Comments (17)

  1. 72 miles?

    I’m givin’ her all I can, captain!


  2. Mark Martin

    I can’t even force myself to pretend to be impressed by something such as this. If the ashes were propelled to escape velocity, that would be interesting. But 72 miles up? (*yaaawwn*) There’s nothing magical about being momentarily slightly above most of Earth’s air.

  3. Mal Renyolds

    Hey, how come you don’t mention your appearence on “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” Phil?

  4. Mal, because I forgot. :-) I have a lot of stuff going on this week. But I’ll post about it on Monday. Thanks for reminding me!

  5. The whole thing seems a bit silly, also the article was listed under “lifestyles”.

  6. Doesn’t sound too impressive when you think of it a “now” context. But what you’re not thinking about is some of those ashes won’t return to earth. Instead, their gravity will attract other ashes over the eons until there is enough mass of dead people ashes to compress into a not just a star, but a death star. :)

  7. Did they put the ashes in an empty Scotch bottle? If not, I’m not sure that it counts.

  8. Troy

    Actually, Thomas, I think Scotty would have preferred a Romulan Ale bottle.

  9. csrster

    Danish TV managed to claim last night that Scotty had been “put into orbit” while showing video footage of what was obviously a sub-orbital flight.

  10. PlanetaryGear

    It is a shame that he couldn’t have been given escape velocity, but in the absence of that capability I’m sure he’d have been happy with this.

    That being said, when people claim anything is “sub-orbital velocity” I have to laugh. When I drive my car to the hardware store this afternoon I’ll be traveling in a sub-orbital trajectory and at a sub-light speed :) Sounds impressive don’t it! At least until you see my mini-van…

  11. Damien

    hell, i can walk at sub-orbital velocity…

  12. Tom

    Hmm…that seems like kind of a rip off. At least the thing could have popped open and dumped ashes 72 miles up couldn’t it?

  13. Irishman

    CafeenMan, since the ashes were in a closed container and returned to Earth and mounted on a plaque for the loved ones, I don’t think any of those ashes are going anywhere soon.

    As someone unconnected to it, it is hard to get worked up over part of the ashes making it slightly into space. However, it’s a gesture of love for the ones who know what the trip would have meant in life to the person and doing so now is an act of reflection and respect. That I can understand.

  14. Mark Martin

    It is true that Doohan’s ashes were put on an elliptical orbit. The problem is that the ellipse intersected Earth’s surface.

  15. American Voyager

    Interesting. I guess if the family really wants to spend all that money for a moment slightly above the air then more power to them. There have only been two “burials” in space that have impressed me……1) Part of Gene Rodenberry’s ashes were impacted on the Moon a few years ago and 2) some of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes (the discoverer of Pluto) are aboard the New Horizon’s probe that will fly past that world in 2015. A suborbital jaunt for probably minutes at most???? Think I’ll pass…………………

  16. Mark Martin

    American Voyager,

    The ashes which impacted the Moon were those of Gene Shoemaker. I recall that Roddenberry’s ashes were put on a low-orbit just about ten years ago, piggybacked with a research satellite. The ashes were expected to stay on orbit for about six years.


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