Farewell, Jimmy

 By Shamus Apr 29, 2007 13 comments

The remains of James Doohan, along with those of about 200 other people, are being launched into space. I hope the launch goes well. The last one (which I don’t think had any remains) spiraled out of control about nine seconds after liftoff and crashed. It would be really bad if the same happened with this one.

Also, maybe some space buffs can help me out here, because I just don’t get it: The article says that the remains “will sail into suborbital space aboard a rocket launched from the southern New Mexico desert.” Um. If it’s sub-orbital, then how in the name of Spock’s Beard is the thing supposed to stay up there? Is the goal to just send the remains up and have them fall down again? Is the idea to send it up and then let it smack into the atmosphere and disintegrate? Did this reporter screw up? Is it possible to orbit from sub-orbital space, and if so, then why is it called that?

1313 comments. That's a baker's dozen.


  1. Mrs T says:

    It comes back so the ashes can be returned to the family after going into space. Details here. It’s the least expensive space burial. I’d prefer the Voyager service myself, but I wouldn’t want to spend that much money.

  2. Henebry says:

    At least they aren’t proposing to add dead people to the clutter of space junk in orbit.

  3. Myxx says:

    heh. Spock’s Beard.

  4. Fourth! :evil grin: I thought they were just going to fire his ashes up there to spin around for a few hundred years until someone figured out how to reconstitute his pattern and bring him back…oops, wrong plotline!

  5. Vegedus says:

    I’ve never cared much for star trek. I guess it was before my time. So, I guess the only thing I can say, is that it’s now finally Scotty’s turn to be beamed up.

  6. Dave says:

    This already happend.. no spirals.. a good launch… but couldn’t you just buy an Estes rocket and toss some ashes in it??

  7. Dave says:

    If you want to see a good movie about some kids that make a rocket back in the 50s.. check out October Sky.. it’s actually a good movie.. complete with an original nerd.. some rocket science.. honest.. October Sky.. good flick.

  8. David McKinnis says:

    Anybody remember a movie called “The Loved One”? Evere since bodies started to be shot into eternity I can’t seem to wipe the stupid grin off my face.

  9. Ravs says:

    I was wondering about the sub-orbital point too. I found this on another BBS:

    If the rocket reached an altitude to get above the magnetosphere then solar wind will probably carry the remains into deep space. If the rocket ejected the remains in a low Earth orbit they will remain up there until some time (several centuries?) when Earth’s gravity pulls it back down scattering the remains over the entire Earth.

    Ravs

  10. Matt` says:

    I really don’t see the point of having your ashes launched into space – I can see the cool factor of it, but to be honest I would far rather launch living-me into space. When I’m dead its a tad too late for me to be experimenting with space travel because.. well, I’m dead.. gone – I would have no way of knowing the difference between my remains being blasted into space, flushed down the toilet or snorted by a drug addict.

    hehe.. I should spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to do the most good with the carcass I’ll leave behind – maybe if its buried and a tree planted on top… or a whole forest planted on top that no-one can disturb forever or else I haunt the living shits out of them :D

    Either that or you could feed me to starving Africans I guess, but I wouldn’t last very long

    Nope, back to the first plan – use me as a grow-bag

  11. Stark says:

    Well, since novbody addressed the actual mechanics of this launch I will!

    It was simple straight up and back down shot (OK, simple isn’t quite true!). The flight achieved an alititude of 72 miles – which is officially considered ‘space’(look up “Kármán line” for the arbitrary defintion of where space begins). It was a sub-orbital shot – meaning that it was a ballistic trajectory like a bullet.

    It is a HUGE leap between suborbital and orbital flight. To achieve orbital flight you need to achieve a velocity of around 8 Km/s. The rocket used to launch Jimmy Doohan’s ashes tops out at around 1.25 Km/s. This launch achived an alt. of 72 miles – objects placed into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) tend to be above the 150 mile mark to minimize atmospheric drag (LEO officially extends out to around 1200 miles BTW). Yes, there is atmosphere that high – it’s thin but when you’re moving at 8+ Km/s it actually has a fairly large impact. The drag it causes slows vehicles down and thus causes them to fall in altitude fairly quickly. See this graph of the ISS altitude over time for an example http://www.heavens-above.com/issheight.asp

  12. Roxysteve says:

    [Stark] Why don’t those guys on the ISS simply reverse the polarity on their tachyon emitters, thereby causing a reactionless thrust in their navigational deflector to ease them back into orbit?

  13. Stark says:

    Cause Scotty didn’t make it up to their 205 mile orbit height! He only hit 72. :(

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