Any Baby Boomer can remember the command, “Beam me up, Scotty,” from the 1966 through 1969 television series Star Trek, starring William Shatner as Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, and DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy.
The chief engineer on the original series is now aboard International Space Station orbiting Earth.
Actor James Doohan, who played chief engineer Montgomery Scott on the series, died in 2005 at the age of 85. It was a long time dream of his to travel into space.
The Times of London recently revealed how the ashes of Doohan were sneaked aboard the ISS after official requests to do so were denied.
Richard Garriott, one of the first private citizens to travel on the space station was able to smuggle some of Doohan’s ashes into the space station’s Columbus module.
Garriott said he took a laminated picture of Doohan and some of his ashes and put it under the floor of the Columbus. He didn’t tell anyone about the scheme — only he and Doohan’s family knew until a few days ago.
“It was completely clandestine,” Garriott told the Times. “His family were very pleased that the ashes made it up there but we were all disappointed we didn’t get to talk about it publicly for so long. Now enough time has passed that we can.”
It’s not the first time Doohan’s ashes have made into outer space. A portion of his ashes were aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket in 2008. Unfortunately, that rocket failed minutes after launch.
In 2012, an urn with some of Doohan’s ashes flew into space aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9. According to the Times, Doohan’s ashes have traveled some 1.7 billion miles across space, and have orbited the Earth more than 70,000 times.
Doohan’s son Chris thanked Garriott for smuggling his late father’s ashes aboard the ISS.
“What he did was touching — it meant so much to me, so much to my family and it would have meant so much to my dad,” he said.