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James Doohan’s ashes have been on ISS for the past dozen years

Video game developer Richard Garriott admitted in an interview this week that when he flew to ISS as a space tourist in 2008 he smuggled some of the ashes of the late James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek, to hide there.

[Garriott] printed three cards with Doohan’s photo on them, sprinkling ashes inside and then laminating them. He then hid the cards within the flight data file, which was cleared for the flight (the cards were not). “Everything that officially goes on board is logged, inspected and bagged — there’s a process, but there was no time to put it through that process,” he said.

…According to Garriott, one of the cards is on display in Chris Doohan’s home, while another was sent floating in space, where it would have inevitably burned up when re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The third card, however, remains in the ISS, hidden beneath the cladding on the floor of the space station’s Columbus module, where Garriott hid it. “As far as I know, no one has ever seen it there and no one has moved it,” he said. “James Doohan got his resting place among the stars.” Since being hidden in the ISS, Doohan’s ashes have travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times.

I hope that now that Garriott has revealed the location of that third card, the petty dictators at NASA and Roscosmos won’t insist that it be removed. For ISS having the ashes of the world’s best space engineer on board can only be good luck.

And it might encourage the government workers at NASA and Roscomos to follow Scotty’s most sage advice, which to paraphrase is “Always under-predict and over-perform. It keeps their expectations low.”

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • wayne

    (I though Doohans ashes were sent into space via Celestis.)

    Star Trek: Next Gen
    Se 6 Ep 4 “Relics”

    “…you didn’t tell him how long it would really take, did you?!”

  • wayne: You should read the article at the link. It answers your question.

  • wayne

    Mr. Z.,
    Thank you..,

  • wayne

    ok, so Doohan’s ashes did not make it up via Celestis, but later on they launched them via SpaceX.

    SpaceX Launches the ashes of Star Trek’s Scotty

    If Doohan was a Ferengi, they would have freeze dried him and auctioned off little slices.
    (can’t readily find that clip, but trust me on this….)

  • ” . . . world’s best space engineer . . . ”

    I think you are underselling Scotty, a bit. But, that would be in keeping with his philosophy.

  • wayne

    here we go….

    James Doohan –
    Hazel (1962)

  • janyuary

    Blair: Precisely!! Are you a Scot, by any chance?

  • Andrew Allen

    wayne: They sent tiny bits of his ashes each way. A cremated human leaves pounds of ashes. The amount of ashes laminated to a photograph is tiny in comparison.

  • janyuary: I can claim no Scottish heritage: my family comes from other parts of the UK.

    My favorite Scotty pop culture reference is near the end of the movie ‘Chicken Run’ (Aardman Animations/Dreamworks 2000), when the chickens are escaping in their contraption. “I’m givin’ it all she’s got!”. Great fun.

  • Max

    deep space nine “body parts” here’s the trailer;

    Some of my favorite scotty episodes;
    Drinking the creature from Andromeda under the table, talking to the 1990’s computer on how to make transparent aluminum (how quaint), next generation finding the lost engineer Scotty on a Dyson sphere suspended in a transporter buffer hundred years? in his crashed shuttle pod.

  • Max

    An interview on British TV in 89. 8min
    Talks of himself, his career, how he loved Trekkies, the words on his tombstone, $200,000 set they made for him to deliver one line and the film clip.

  • wayne

    Thanks. “It’s all clear to me now…”

    A most excellent obscure cultural reference!

    You the Man!

  • J Fincannon

    An interesting thing about Richard Garriott is that he must have made a lot of money from video games. I mean back in the good old days. I fondly recall the Ultima computer game. 1980s. Anyway, he bought the Luna 21 lander and the Lunokhod 2 rover. I though this was apocryphal, but I have not been able to find where this is not the case. James Oberg’s contacts confirm it. Pretty interesting that he claims that since the rover is still in use (retroreflectors) this means he claims property rights to the territory surveyed by it.

  • Andrew M Winter

    I was a janitor for 7 years. I ALWAYS followed that paradigm. UNDER promising makes it real easy to OVER perform. I would tell them it would take me 4 hours when it might take two. I’d goof off and do it in three, get my pat on the back, and just goof off for the last hour.


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