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The late James Doohan as Scotty.
Image: CBS/Viacom

A heartwarming story of hope, family, and a little bit of international espionage.

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As revealed in a fascinating report by The Times in the United Kingdom, some of the ashes of James Doohan, Star Trek’s original Scotty, now live on board of the International Space Station. They’ve been there since 2008, and until now it’s been a secret.

The enactor of this heartwarming plot was Richard Garriot, an entrepreneur who became, in 2008, one of the first private citizens to go into space. After being asked by the Doohan family to help fulfill the late James’s wishes—to find his way to space after death—Garriot and Doohan’s son Chris concocted a plan, which involved secretly sneaking a laminated card containing some of Doohan’s ashes onto the International Space Station.


It was completely clandestine… 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,” Garriott said.

The plan was concocted after Garriott had already registered his items for the trip, so in order to make sure it was carried out, he kept it a secret from the people in charge of the mission. Which I think is a crime? That sounds like some sort of crime. But it is perhaps the most heartwarming crime I can think of.


This would end up being the first time Doohan’s ashes ended up in space, but it wasn’t the last. Some were also carried to space aboard a SpaceX rocket in 2012, after a failed flight in 2008.


“Richard said ‘We’ve got to keep this hush hush for a little while’ and here we are 12 years later. 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,” Chris Doohan said.

James Doohan, who played Scotty on the original Star Trek, passed away in 2005, and has been in space since 2008. Reportedly, his ashes have travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting the planet more than 70,000 times. Beam me up indeed.


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