• ULA will launch a payload for celestis memorial spaceflights
  • The mission is called "Enterprise Flight"
  • ULA's Vulcan will be carrying the special payload into deep space

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is set to launch its new Vulcan rocket later this year, and it will be carrying a rather special cargo on board. Among its payload will be the ashes of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry and actor James "Scotty" Doohan, who famously played Mongomery Scott in the original "Star Trek" series and films.

The development of the Vulcan has faced schedule delays, but it is finally set to take its inaugural flight later this year. For its maiden mission, the Vulcan will be placing Astrobiotic's lunar lander on a trajectory for the moon, then its upper stage will continue on a journey to deep space, Celestis, a company that offers memorial spaceflights, noted in a statement.

The upper stage will be carrying a payload for Celestis, including 150 flight capsules with cremated remains, DNA samples and even messages from clients from across the world. Among these ashes will be those of Gene, Majel and Doohan.

"We're very pleased to be fulfilling, with this mission, a promise I made to 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 M. Chafer, Celestis co-founder and CEO, said in the news release. "We look forward to launching this historic mission on a rocket named Vulcan."

The mission has been named "Enterprise Flight" as a tribute to Gene, Majel and Doohan. Celestis launched a portion of Gene's ashes on its Founder's Flight into orbit in 1997, but the Celestis Enterprise Flight will travel "beyond the Earth-Moon system, beyond the James Webb telescope, and into interplanetary deep space," where it will be on a "never-ending journey through the cosmos."

"We are honored that Celestis has selected ULA to launch this important mission," said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. "What a fitting tribute to the Roddenberry family and the Star Trek fans to be a part of the maiden flight of Vulcan, our next-generation rocket."

Since its first mission in 1997, Celestis has launched quite a few memorial spaceflights that allowed families to celebrate loved ones in a rather unique way. It offers destinations to suborbital space, the Earth's orbit, the surface of the moon and, starting with the Enterprise Flight, interplanetary space.

Star Trek technology
Over the years, technology in "Star Trek" has slowly made its way into the real world Reuters