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NY Post
New York Post
6 Jan 2024


NextImg:Rocket set release remains of 330 people, including George Washington, JFK and ‘Star Trek’ cast into space: ‘Permanent memorial’

It’s their final frontier. 

After an eight-month delay, a rocket will finally release into deep space the remains of 330 people from all walks of life — including George Washington and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Texas-based company Celestis Inc.’s inaugural Enterprise Flight is scheduled to launch at 2:18 a.m. Monday from Cape Canaveral in Florida, marking the first time human remains will be released on the moon and beyond by a commercial company. 

The two-stage Vulcan Centaur rocket will first drop 62 of the 1/4- and 1/2-inch long titanium capsules filled with DNA or cremated remains on the moon, in a 6-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide device called the Peregrine Lunar Lander.

It will become a “permanent memorial.” 

The two-stage Vulcan Centaur rocket will first drop 62 of the 1/4- and 1/2-inch long titanium capsules filled with DNA or cremated remains on the moon, then the other 268 in deep space. Celestis Inc
Celestis Inc.’s inaugural Enterprise Flight is scheduled to launch at 2:18 a.m. Monday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. AFP via Getty Images

The spaceship will then take the remaining 268 capsules over 185 million miles into deep space, where they will “orbit the sun forever,” said Celestis CEO and Co-founder Charles Chafer

“I’ve had a lot of firsts in my career, but this will be the first commercial deep space mission ever done – and hopefully it will be the first of many, many more over the next few centuries,” Chafer said. 

The celestial payload will be filled with luminaries.

An anonymous donor contributed hair samples from former presidents Washington, John F. Kennedy, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

An anonymous donor contributed hair samples from former presidents Washington, John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower to be launched into deep space. Celestis Inc.

Partial remains of late “Star Trek” cast members Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), James Doohan (Scotty), and DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) will also be on board.

The mission will also send the show’s mastermind, Roddenberry, and his wife, Magel Barrett Roddenberry, into deep space. 

“We flew Gene on our very first mission in 1997 and Magel came to be a part of it, and she said to me, ‘When it’s my time, I’d like you to fly Gene and I together on a deep space mission.’ And me, being 28 years old at the time and having no reason to believe we couldn’t do it, I said, ‘I would be happy to do that,’” he recalled. 

Partial remains of late “Star Trek” cast member Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) will be among the luminaries launched into deep space.
The mission will also send the “Star Trek” mastermind, Gene Roddenberry, top right, and James Doohan, bottom right, who plays Scotty in the show. Celestis Inc; AP; Paramount

“So not only is the launch a culmination of all our work to date – it represents the fulfillment of a promise that I made,” Chafer continued. 

The flight will also fulfill Upper West Side-based sculptor and painter Luise Kaish’s lifetime wish. 

Luise – whose works have been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, and the Whitney – died at 87 in 2013 and was “deeply fascinated” by space exploration and “obsessed with NASA,” her daughter, Melissa Kaish told The Post. 

Acclaimed artist and sculptor Luise Kaish was “deeply fascinated” by space exploration and “obsessed with NASA,” her daughter, Melissa Kaish told The Post.  Helayne Seidman
“I’m just really thrilled that her dream of the ultimate voyage will be fulfilled,” Melissa Kaish said.  Helayne Seidman

“My dream is for my ashes to be buried in space,” her mom once told her.

Melissa will watch the launch with her father Morton Kaish – who will turn 97 on the same day – via online video streaming.

“I’m incredibly overwhelmed at the idea that it’s actually going to happen … I’m just really thrilled that her dream of the ultimate voyage will be fulfilled,” she said. 

After the moon, the spaceship will take the remaining 268 capsules over 185 million miles into deep space, where they will “orbit the sun forever,” said Celestis CEO and Co-founder Charles Chafer.  United launch Alliance/AFP via Getty Images
Less permanent send-offs such as suborbital flights — which come back to Earth and are returned to the participants’ families — run nearly $3,000, and to orbit around Earth costs almost $5,000.  United launch Alliance/AFP via Getty Images

Orbiting deep space in perpetuity doesn’t come cheap, costing just under $13,000.

Less permanent send-offs such as suborbital flights — which come back to Earth and are returned to the participants’ families — run nearly $3,000, and to orbit around Earth costs almost $5,000. 

The mission was previously scheduled to launch on May 4, 2023.

Chafer, 70, who co-founded Celestis in 1995, insisted that “everything looks good” for Monday’s launch.