A Look Back at Space Tourism Version 1.0 as New Gaggle of Millionauts Prepares to Fly

The first space tourist, Dennis Tito, poses with Soyuz TM-32 crew mates Talgat Musabayev, and Yuri Baturin in 2001. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For eight years, they thundered aloft in cramped Russian spacecraft from a former Soviet spaceport in Kazakhstan, battling bureaucracy and gravity to blaze a trail across the heavens and redefine what it meant to be a space traveler. No longer would access to orbit be limited to highly trained astronauts chosen on merit and working on behalf of their nations; instead, space would be open to any sufficiently healthy people with enough money and moxie to qualify.

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Falcon 1 Crash Sent Gordo’s and Scotty’s Ashes into the Pacific

Saturday’s failure of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 launch vehicle did more than destroy three small satellites. It also sent the ashes of Mercury astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper Jr., Star Trek actor James “Scotty” Doohan and 206 other people into the Pacific Ocean instead of orbit.

The remains were placed aboard the rocket through a Texas-based company called Celestis. A spokeswoman, Susan Schonfeld, told The New York Times that the company would re-fly the remains of all 208 people using backup samples.

This launch marked the second effort to send Doohan’s and Cooper’s ashes into space; last year, they were launched aboard an UP Aerospace suborbital rocket in New Mexico. The payload containing the ashes was lost for about three weeks in the rugged mountains before being recovered in good shape.

One of Doohan’s seven children, Ehrich Blackhound, said he has had enough. He wrote an eloquent piece on Boing Boing saying that each launch opens an unhealed wound.

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