VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The family of a mother of eight who was a huge “Star Trek” fan has made sure the Last Frontier will be her final resting place.
Gloria Knowlan was 86 years old at the time of her death 12 years ago. A small amount of ashes from his cremated body are expected to be in one of 250 memorial capsules that will be launched into space later this month.
Launch organizers hope that the rocket carrying the capsules will end up about 330 million kilometers from Earth, or roughly beyond the orbit of Mars.
The remains or DNA samples of “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, his wife, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and original series stars Nichelle Nichols, DeForest Kelley and James Doohan are also expected to make the trip.
Their final journey will take place through the American company Celestis Inc., which has offered what it calls “memorial spaceflights” for more than two decades.
Knowlan's son said his mother dove headlong into the things she loved, including the series, after his father died in 2002. Her love of “Star Trek” inspired her to collect replica spaceships and decorating his Christmas tree every year with a homemade alien spaceship known as Star Trek. like the Borg cube, equipped with working lights.
Rod Knowlan said he thought his mother would be “just tickled” at the thought of some of her remains going into space alongside some of the people she saw on TV.
“She was a fan of ‘Star Trek,’ the concept, from the beginning,” he said in a telephone interview.
For prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to $13,000, Celestis Inc. takes small capsules of human remains or DNA into space and sends them back, drops them into Earth's orbit or takes them to the moon in tribute to deceased loved ones.
Co-founder and CEO Charles Chafer said the rocket carrying Knowlan's remains, scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 8, will mark the first time the company has offered a trip to “deep space.” , which means that the capsules won will not end up falling on Earth.
“I think this sounds an awful lot like why people choose to disperse to sea,” Chafer said. “There’s a call there. There is something about the sea that interests them or attracts them as a place for a memorial service.
The capsules will be carried into space by the Vulcan rocket, a commercial venture that lives up to its name.
Chafer said the primary purpose of the trip was to allow the rocket to test its capabilities to become the first commercial spacecraft to land on the Moon and that his company's cargo was being carried to serve a “secondary” purpose.