The debut Vulcan Centaur rocket launch will, logically, host the ashes and DNA of “Star Trek” fans and actors — including some people involved in the franchise.
As United Launch Alliance prepares to launch Vulcan to replace some older standbys in its fleet, the first flight will call back to the more famous planet of Vulcan known to “Star Trek” fans. ULA will launch the “Star Trek” content as part of a collaboration with Celestis, which specializes in space memorial launches.
And yes, this first Vulcan mission is also nicknamed “Enterprise,” in honor of the famous Trek starships. It will carry 150 capsules containing the cremains or DNA of Trek or space fans, including those of the series’ creator and “First Family” of Star Trek.
“We’re very pleased to be fulfilling, with this mission, a promise I made to [actor] Majel Barrett Roddenberry in 1997 that one day we would fly her and husband/Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry together on a deep space memorial spaceflight,” Charles Chafer, Celestis CEO and co-founder, said in a statement.
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“The mission is named Enterprise in tribute to them — and also fellow mission participant and beloved actor, James ‘Scotty’ Doohan — as well as the many ‘Star Trek’ fans who are joining them on this, the 20th Celestis Memorial Spaceflight,” Chafer added.
You can see all of the “Enterprise mission participants listed here by Celestis. Among the more famous names on the mission is Australian-born NASA astronaut Philip Chapman, who died last year at age 86 without having flown into space.
Along with launching the “Star Trek” content, the Vulcan Centaur will have another big payload on board: Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander. The mission calls for the Centaur upper stage of the rocket to put Peregrine on course to rendezvous with the moon, and then to go on to deep space with the memorial payload.
As for when the mission takes place, the anticipated 2022 timeline is uncertain at this time. In December, Ars Technica reported that Blue Origin will likely be unable to send its BE-4 rocket engine for Vulcan before the second quarter of 2022, which means the flight may slip into 2023.