In a fitting way to immortalize Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry, some of the sci-fi legend's ashes were flown in a small capsule on the space shuttle Columbia's STS-52 mission in 1992. Columbia delivered the tiny canister into outer space, where it orbited the Earth 160 times before being returned on the shuttle.
"To the best of everyone's knowledge, it was the first time that human remains were launched on a manned spacecraft," Pearlman said.
A portion of Roddenberry's ashes were also launched into space in 1997 by the Houston-based firm Celestis, Inc., which offers a range of memorial spaceflight services. The remains of Roddenberry, who died in 1991, journeyed into the cosmos along with 23 other peoples' ashes in the company's debut Founders Flight, aboard an Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket.
Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, died in 2008, and her ashes, along with some of her husband's, will be launched on Celestis' Voyager Memorial Spaceflight Service, which is slated for 2012.