HOUSTON — Four late U.S. presidents are heading into outer space — well, sort of. It may sound like an episode of the cartoon “Futurama,” but these aren’t funny talking heads in a glass jar. The DNA of George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan will be on board a spacecraft launching later this year.
Houston-based memorial spaceflight company Celestis, Inc. say their historic Enterprise Flight — which they call “humanity’s first deep space time capsule” — will carry what they believe is authenticated DNA from each of these former commanders in chief.
Hair samples of these presidents will be on this spacecraft, which will also contain DNA and cremated remains of more than 200 individuals – including “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and the legendary science fiction show’s original cast members Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and DeForest Kelley. Interestingly, these actors attended the unveiling of NASA’s Enterprise space shuttle back in 1976 — a craft named for their famous-but-fictional vessel. They will now all travel to space for real.
Apollo astronaut Philip Chapman and special effects master Douglas Trumbull are also among the “guestlist” on the flight.
How did they find DNA from these presidents?
The presidential hair samples, which were originally from the Louis Mushro collection, along with the associated Certificates of Authenticity, were gifted to Celestis by an anonymous donor for the purpose of being included on a deep space mission.
Celestis officials say Louis Mushro was a well-known celebrity hair collector and appraiser who built a global reputation as the expert in this field before his passing in 2014. The hair samples have been in a climate-controlled facility for several years in preparation for this mission.
“Our Enterprise Flight is an historic mission by any standard,” explains Charles M. Chafer, Co-Founder & CEO of Celestis, Inc., in a statement provided by SWNS. “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.”
On its maiden voyage, a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, put a lunar lander on course for its rendezvous with the Moon, and continue into a heliocentric (solar) orbit around the Sun later this year.
Once the Centaur V stage achieves this orbit, the Enterprise Flight will be renamed Enterprise Station and become mankind’s furthest space outpost. From there, it will journey endlessly, “perhaps awaiting discovery by a distant in time civilization,” Celestis officials add.
South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.