The Ashes Of Star Trek’s James Doohan Were Smuggled Into Space

By Doug Norrie | 6 months ago

james doohan scotty star trek

James Doohan had plenty of time pretending to be in space as an actor but while he was alive he never actually got there himself. It might be some, small consolation to know that, though he never boldly went where no man had gone before while on this Earth, his ashes did actually end up making their way to the cosmos. It just came out that the late actor’s remains are officially headed out into the final frontier with Doohan’s ashes being smuggled onto the International Space Station.

Getting into space these days doesn’t seem all that difficult with more and more companies coming along with the technology to blast nearly anything into orbit. But a decade or more ago things weren’t that easy. So when James Doohan passed away back in 2005, though one of his final wishes was to have his ashes settle on the ISS, having it happen required more than a little work. Apparently, it only took three years and a little bit of cloak and dagger. 

From the report, video game developer Richard Garriott, son of an actual astronaut, was able to self-finance a trip to the International Space Station when he dropped $30 million to hitch a ride on the Soyuz TMA-13. In addition to presumably bringing his clothes, toothbrush, and other incidentals, he also stowed away James Doohan’s ashes even though they weren’t supposed to be making the trip. Garriott requested being able to have them come along, but had been denied a couple of times. I suppose if you have tens of millions to drop on a trip into space, you aren’t all that concerned with some of the other protocols. 

james doohan star trek scotty

For years it had been speculated on and planned for James Doohan’s ashes to find their way into space in some fashion. Back in 2008, it was rumored a plan was in place for them to be on board a Celestis launch which blasts cremated remains into orbit. But that initiative failed. And then in 2011, Doohan’s ashes were reportedly on the SpaceX Falcon 1 flight. But that never ended up being confirmed and the launched rocket failed to get into orbit. It appears the Doohan family had more than a few space irons in the fire for James’s ultimate resting place. 

James Doohan played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the chief engineer on the USS Enterprise. Among the technical prowess the character showed off on the show, he also was of the “beam me up” line that became synonymous with the Star Trek franchise.  After appearing on the original show he also had roles in the first six major motion pictures. Doohan’s Scotty was as much a part of the show’s popularity and cultural zeitgeist as anyone else in the production. 

According to Garriott, he placed a laminated picture of James Doohan, along with some of his ashes in the Columbus module of the International Space Station. He says they are actually under one of the station’s floorboards, unbeknownst to anyone but now. It sounds like something straight out of a television show is great to know that Doohan’s wishes were ultimately carried out.