The space burial company Celestis will include DNA from presidents George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan on their upcoming memorial flight.
Four former American presidents are about to go where no president has gone before — space. Well, at least their DNA will.
The space burial company Celestis is planning to include DNA from presidents George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan on its Enterprise Flight, which is planned for this year.
According to Space.com, the company acquired authenticated hair samples from Louis Mushro, a celebrity hair collector, which they’ve kept in “a climate-controlled facility” in advance of the space flight. But the presidents aren’t the only famous passengers on Celestis’ Enterprise Flight.
The mission, which is set to fly 150 to 300 million miles into deep space and establish a solar orbit, will also carry DNA and cremated remains from a number of figures from Star Trek. According to Celestis, these include franchise creator Gene Roddenberry, as well as actors Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), and James Doohan (Mr. Scott).
So — why send the remains of American presidents and science fiction figures into space? For Celestial, it all comes down to DNA.
“In keeping with the idea that ancient DNA can tell scientists how we evolved,” Celestis explained on their site, “the DNA of these presidents can tell future civilizations that may settle in deep space more about bygone American leaders and culture, even providing a sort of evolutionary ‘map’ as to how the U.S. started (under Washington) and flourished (under later presidents including Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan).”
The company sees DNA as “data storage” and the DNA of presidents and other figures in space as a “cosmic time capsule.” They hypothesize that future civilizations could discover the DNA in outer space, and use it as a way to understand the past (our present).
“Our Enterprise Flight is a historic mission by any standard,” Charles M. Chafer, Celestis co-founder and CEO, wrote in a company blog post. “The overarching goal of Celestis is to assist human expansion throughout the solar system. By adding the DNA of these American icons to Enterprise, we establish a precursor for future human missions, and add to the historical record of human exploration of deep space.”
According to their site, Celestis has launched 17 missions since 1997. It helps facilitate “memorial spaceflights” in which families can put their deceased loved ones on a mission to the stars, instead of burying them in the ground.
The company’s first-ever Enterprise Flight, which will carry DNA from presidents and science fiction figures, will launch in 2023 and plans to fly hundreds of miles into deep space, beyond the “Earth-moon system.”
The presidents and Star Trek figures are not its only passengers, however. The Enterprise flight will carry a total of 200 “flight capsules,” according to Space.com, which will contain “cremated ash remains, DNA material, personal messages and heartfelt greetings from international clients on an unforgettable voyage.”
“This flight will indeed go into the history books, and thanks to the DNA presence of historical figures, the Enterprise Flight’s story won’t just end with its entry into a solar orbit,” Celestial wrote on its site.
It’s impossible to know how the four presidents chosen for the flight would have thought about it. George Washington surely wouldn’t have imagined such a thing possible, and Dwight Eisenhower died just months before the first moon landing in 1969.
But Cold War presidents like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan had one eye fixed on the stars — for them, perhaps a space flight would feel like a thrilling conclusion to their legacy.
After reading about a space burial company’s plan to send the DNA of four American presidents into space, look through these incredible images of deep space. Or, discover the strange story of the mysterious radio signal that repeats from deep space every 16 days.