What happens to a deceased person’s DNA in space? We don’t yet know, but one company is finding out.
In an unprecedented melding of history, space exploration, and pop culture, DNA samples of four iconic American Presidents are set to take an out-of-this-world journey. In a move that combines reverence for national leadership and a nod to entertainment legends, Texas-based space burial company, Celestis, is gearing up to launch an astonishing payload.
Sending Founding Fathers’ DNA in Space
Determined to make history, Celestis has chosen the DNA samples of four of the most recognized U.S. Presidents: George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. These samples will be part of Celestis’ deep space remembrance Enterprise Flight. This flight’s announcement fittingly occurred on Presidents’ Day, honoring some of the nation’s foremost leaders. The mission is groundbreaking, marking the first instance any U.S. president is symbolically dispatched to space.
Joining Trekkies on an Epic Journey
These presidential DNA samples are not traveling alone. Sharing their celestial voyage are the remains and DNA samples of some of the most beloved names from the “Star Trek” franchise. Among them are Nichelle Nichols, DeForest Kelley, and the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, along with his wife, Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
The list doesn’t end there. James “Scotty” Doohan, renowned for his role as the “Star Trek” engineer, and Douglas Trumbull, the visual effects genius behind classics like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, will also join the journey.
Interestingly, the hair samples, which are the DNA sources for these presidents, are from the collection of Louis Mushro. A global celebrity in the realm of hair collection and appraisal, Mushro’s reputation is unparalleled. Before his demise in 2014, he ensured these samples were stored meticulously in a climate-controlled facility. They now embark on a mission of historic significance, thanks to an anonymous donor who gifted these samples to Celestis.
DNA in Space, Beyond the Earth-Moon System
According to Charles M. Chafer, Co-Founder & CEO of Celestis, Inc., their “Enterprise Flight is historic by any standard.” Celestis envisions an ambitious future: assisting human expansion throughout the solar system. By sending the DNA of such significant figures into space, they aim to pave the way for future human missions.
This Enterprise Flight will transcend the Earth-moon system, traveling between 93 to 186 million miles into deep space. It will carry over 200 flight capsules, each loaded with cremated ash remains, DNA, personal messages, and greetings from global clients.
The journey of these capsules isn’t just about remembrance. The Vulcan Centaur rocket, responsible for transporting these capsules, has a primary mission: aiding the Pittsburgh aerospace company Astrobotic. This assistance involves directing their Peregrine lunar lander toward the moon’s surface. Following this, the Vulcan Centaur’s upper stage will delve deeper into space. Its destination? An orbit around the sun, where it will establish humanity’s furthest outpost, the Enterprise Station.
Adding to the mission’s allure is its partnership with Amazon. The 2023 Enterprise Flight will carry two prototype satellites, set to be part of Amazon’s internet constellation, Project Kuiper. As space exploration moves forward, collaborations like these symbolize the fusion of commerce, innovation, and remembrance.