It’s sort of an old story at this point, that people’s ashes have been sent into space as a memorial. It’s even a little bit of an old story that Gene Roddenberry’s ashes are being sent into space. Along with Jimmy Doohan (Scotty from Star Trek), the company Celestis has sent parts of their remains into suborbital space before today. What makes this story different is that Roddenberry’s wife, “The First Lady of Star Trek“, Majel Barett’s ashes will now be included along with one of Arthur C Clark’s hair.
Both Clark and Barett died in 2008.
Though some of Roddenberry’s ashes have already been sent up in 1997 by Celestis, they have since entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated back in 2002. This, however, will be the first time his ashes will be out of Earth’s orbit and into deep space.
What makes this story particularly interesting, though, is that it will be done with the first navigable and world’s largest solar sail, called the Sunjammer.
Celestis is excited about the application of solar sails for early warning systems, in particular in detecting solar storms that will eliminate electrical power on the planet (an EMP burst, essentially). The mechanisms of how this is done is not further elucidated on the website or in the video.
The flight of the Sunjammer, along with the remains of some of science fiction’s greatest allies, is scheduled for late 2014, and there are still spaces available for the remains of other loved ones on this historic mission.