United Launch Alliance’s future rocket Vulcan Centaur is undergoing pathfinder tests at Cape Canaveral. Credit: ULA

WASHINGTON — Celestis, a company that provides space memorial services, will launch a Star Trek tribute mission on the first flight of United Launch Alliance’s new rocket Vulcan Centaur, ULA announced Jan. 26.

The rocket will launch Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander and the Celestis mission will ride as a secondary payload. 

Despite significant schedule delays in the development of Vulcan and its BE-4 main engine, ULA said the vehicle is still on track on make its inaugural launch later this year.

The Celestis mission, named the Enterprise Flight, is a tribute to Majel Barrett Roddenberry and her husband Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. It will launch more than 150 flight capsules containing cremated remains, DNA samples and messages from Star Trek fans. 

Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO, said the mission is a “fitting tribute to the Roddenberry family and the Star Trek fans to be a part of the maiden flight of Vulcan.”

Celestis in 1997 launched Gene Roddenberry’s ashes to space on an Orbital Sciences rocket. 

“”We’re fulfilling a promise I made to Majel Barrett Roddenberry in 1997 that one day we would fly her and husband together on a deep space memorial spaceflight,” said Celestis CEO Charles Chafer.

ULA said Vulcan will first deploy Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander on a trajectory to the moon. The Centaur upper stage will then continue on to deep space, entering a stable orbit around the sun with Celestis’ memorial spaceflight payload.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...