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.”