Scotty From Star Trek’s Ashes Are Aboard The International Space Station

by : Hannah Smith on : 28 Dec 2020 11:50
Scotty From Star Trek's Ashes Are Aboard The International Space StationCBS Television Distribution/PA Images

He became a beloved character for his bold adventures aboard the USS Enterprise, but it turns out Star Trek’s Scotty has been travelling among the stars even after his death.

The ashes of James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty in the original series from 1966 to 1969, were secretly hidden on board the International Space Station (ISS) following his death in 2005.


Richard Garriott, a video game entrepreneur and one of the first private citizens to visit the space station, smuggled the ashes on board in 2008, helping to fulfil the actor’s request to be laid to rest among the stars. Incredibly, Doohan’s ashes have been flying through space on board the ISS, without anyone from NASA knowing, for more than 12 years.

Paramount Pictures

Garriott told The Times:

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, whose father was an astronaut, was contacted by Doohan’s son Chris while the entrepreneur was waiting to launch aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule in 2008. He told The Times, ‘I said ‘I’m in quarantine in Kazakhstan… but if you can get the ashes to me, I’ll find a way of getting them aboard,’ A couple of days before flight, this package arrived and I made a plan.’

Garriott apparently printed three photographs of Doohan, and sprinkled each of them with some of his ashes before laminating them and secretly hiding them inside his flight data file.

Once on board the ISS, Garriott released one of the cards into space, and kept one to return to Doohan’s family on Earth. But the third was hidden under the floor of the space station’s Columbus module, where, as far as he knows, it remains to this day.

International Space StationPA Images

The daring mission proved to be third time lucky for Doohan’s family, who had made two previous attempts to send the actor’s ashes into orbit. In 2007, a portion were flown on a suborbital rocket before returning to Earth, while in 2008 another sample was destroyed when the rocket carrying them failed during lift off.

Chris Doohan, who has voiced Scotty himself in other Star Trek series, was asked to keep the kind gesture a secret to avoid getting Garriott into trouble with NASA.

He said:

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.


Doohan added: ‘My dad had three passions: space, science and trains. He always wanted to go into space.’

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Topics: Film and TV, International Space Station, ISS, Space, Star Trek


The Times
  1. The Times

    Ashes of Star Trek’s Scotty smuggled on to International Space Station