4:51 PM

Still Miles Away
From 'Star Trek'

I grew up in the “Star Trek” generation, and way back in 1966 when the original series premiered, it wasn't hard for wide-eyed 10-year-old boys like myself to imagine that in our lifetime, we'd be blasting through space at warp speeds, and “beaming” people around the universe.

Now fast-forward 41 years to the present age, as we stand on the threshold of the commercial space travel age. When carriers like Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic start giving their thrill rides up to the edge of space and back, it will still light years away from "beaming people" up from a planet or shooting off on five year missions to explore distant galaxies. Yes, we have the ISS, but it is a far cry from NCC-1701.

If you really need in-your-face proof that the age of Star Trek is still just fantasy, you need to look no further then this Reuters story from the Arizona desert. It was back on April 29th that a Up Aerospace Spaceloft XL rocket carrying the ashes of James Doohan – who played Scotty on "Star Trek” – astronaut Gordon Cooper, and some 200 other people blasted off into “space”.

Upon reading today's headlines though, you might initially assume the company that launched the Doohan rocket flubbed their mission, because as of today those remains – and the rocket carrying them – are still lost in nearby mountains. But if you look at the Celestis website, the goal of the flight was not to deposit the remains in space, but simply to give them a few fleeting weightless moments above the official beginning of space, defined on their site as 62 miles up:

Our Earth-Return service – starting at $495 – affordably launches a symbolic portion of cremated remains to space, and after experiencing the zero gravity environment, returns the individual flight capsules and modules back to Earth. After a successful flight, the Earth-Return payload, including flown flight capsules and modules, is recovered, validated as having reached space, and the capsule or module is returned to the family or loved one as a keepsake.
Celestis does have ways of depositing remains in the deepest parts of space we can currently reach, but if this was the launch product used for the Doohan mission, they would not be looking for the rocket. To reach deep space, you can spend as little as $12,500 to heave one gram of grandpa skyward, or $67,495 to blast off seven grams each of grandpa AND grandma:
The Voyager Service launches Celestis flight capsules and modules on a voyage through deepest space, leaving the Earth-Moon system on a permanent celestial journey. The Voyager Service is expected to launch its first mission in 2009, perhaps aboard a spacecraft being developed by Space Services Inc. that will utilize a solar sail for propulsion.
Sorry, but north of sixty grand is way too spendy for my blood. Just dig a hole out under the Old Growth Doug Firs in my backyard and toss me in...'nuf said on that. No need to throw a shindig, hire a marching band or light up any rockets.

But a flyover by a bunch of my GA buddies in missing man formation might be pretty cool.

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