Another Star Trek Legend Honored With A Final Space Voyage

A Sample of DeForest Kelley's DNA will be carried into space along with those of his late colleagues.

By Michileen Martin | Published

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Last month we learned that a portion of the ashes of Nichelle Nichols–who passed away at the end of July–would be joining the DNA of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Roddenberry’s wife as well as a Trek alum of multiple projects Majel Barrett, actor James Doohan, and visual effects master Douglas Trumbull on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur mission. Today we learned another name has been added to those whose remains will soon start a fitting journey into deep space. The DNA of Star Trek: The Original Series star DeForest Kelley–who played Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the show and in many subsequent projects such as the first six Trek films–will be joining those of his late colleagues.

The press release from Celestis–the Houston-based company that has been arranging similar space-bound memorials since the nineties–says that the DNA of Star Trek’s DeForest Kelley will join those of the other Trek alums on the upcoming space mission. While the primary goal of the mission is to deliver a robotic lander to The Moon, what’s being called the Enterprise Flight will also launch the partial remains of the Star Trek legends into deep space. A precise date for the mission hasn’t been announced, though it is expected to commence before the end of the year.

Star Trek wouldn’t be the same without DeForest Kelley. He’s jokingly remembered as the Enterprise’s doctor who utters the oft-repeated “He’s dead, Jim,” but his role was far more than the guy delivering the bad news. As an often emotional and fiercely opinionated member of the Enterprise crew, Bones played off the relatively cold stoicism and logic of Leonard Nimoy‘s Spock. As a result, while Bones consistently held to his ideals, he always played a different role depending on the story and his take on the events. He was sometimes the crew’s conscience, sometimes the voice of reason, sometimes a sober dose of reality, and other times an unwelcome element of chaos.

 star trek deforest kelley
DeForest Kelley in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country marked the final live-action appearance of DeForest Kelley as his signature character, but not before he made a memorable cameo as an elderly version of Bones on the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Encounter at Farpoint”. Considering the TNG premiere is set a little over 50 years after the events of Star Trek VI, and Kelley was already in his seventies when the film hit theaters, human life expectancy in the 24th century is somewhere in the 120 range.

Sadly, Star Trek fans everywhere said goodbye to DeForest Kelley when he was at a much younger age than his Trek counterpart. The actor was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1997 and died two years later at the age of 79. While he is best remembered for his time as Bones, his acting credits went far beyond Roddenberry’s universe. His TV career in the fifties and sixties was prolific, with the star appearing in Bonanza, The Fugitive, Rawhide, Perry Mason, and more.