November 16, 2005
Ashes of ‘Star Trek’ Actor Grounded by Dud Rocket
In life, James Doohan was the "Star Trek" engineer who worked miracles on the Enterprise, but a rocket meant to blast his remains into space has engine trouble.
A Falcon One rocket was to lift the ashes of Doohan, who played engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott aboard the fictional Starship Enterprise, into space next month but the launch has been delayed at least until February, organizers said Tuesday.
"They had an engine test they didn't like so they will do another month of testing," Charles Chafer of Space Services Inc. told AFP.
Unlike Scotty, who told Captain James T. Kirk in a Scottish accent, "She'll launch on time and she'll be ready," the US Department of Defense engineers involved with the rocket mission needed more time to sort out engine problems, Chafer said.
The "Explorers Flight" launch in California was to follow the launch of an identical rocket this month in the Marshall Islands.
Concerns about an engine on the rocket in the Marshall Islands prompted the additional testing, throwing off the schedule for the originally planned California launch in December, Chafer said.
"We want to fly," Chafer said. "But, this will give us the opportunity to accept some additional participants for the ride."
The Explorers Flight was already billed by Space Services as the largest ever memorial spaceflight, with 168 participants from eight countries aboard.
Doohan, who died in July at the age of 85, had asked that his ashes be launched into the final frontier following his death.
Canadian-born Doohan played engineer Montgomery Scott in the original "Star Trek" television series that started in 1966 and spawned a decades-long cult following of the show.
Doohan immortalized the starship's engineer, a pragmatically blunt bear of a man who repeatedly managed miraculous repairs while crew members dealt with the adversities and adventures of "space, the final frontier".
Space Services, a Texas-based company, has rocketed the remains of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and 1960s drug guru Timothy Leary into the firmament.