Star Trek actor James Doohan: Scotty’s ashes rest in space

When Richard Garriott was one of the first private individuals to travel to the International Space Station in 2008, only a handful of people knew what he was carrying. He spent part of the ashes of actor James Doohan on the space station, thereby fulfilling his and his family’s wishes.

Doohan played from 1966 to 1994 the chief engineer of the spaceship USS Enterprise Montgomery Scott in the television series Star Trek. The figure was better known under the nickname Scotty, which was mainly used by Captain Kirk: “Beam me up, Scotty” or in the German equivalent: “Scotty, beam me up.”

James Doohan died in 2005 at the age of 85. Two official requests by the family to bring Doohan’s ashes to the ISS were denied. The 59-year-old private entrepreneur Garriott finally smuggled some of the remains on board during a twelve-day mission. He hid it and a laminated photo of the actor in the Columbus module of the space station under a panel in the floor.

James Doohan’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame shortly after his death on July 20, 2005

(Image: AllyUnion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

So far, the public was unaware of the action. “His family was delighted that the ashes made it up there, but we were all disappointed that we couldn’t speak about it publicly for so long. Now it’s been enough time for us to do it,” Garriott told the British newspaper The Times. Chris Doohan, the actor’s son, thanked Garriott for his dedication. It would have meant a lot to his father.

It was not the first attempt to get the remains of James Doohan into space, but it was the first successful one. Also in 2008, part of its ashes were launched with the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket. However, the launch failed after a few minutes. In 2012, a further launch including Doohan’s ashes was achieved with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. According to the Times, Doohan has now orbited the earth 70,000 times and covered 2.7 billion kilometers.


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