Twenty years ago, the perihelion of the Hale-Bopp comet coincided with the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult, whose members believed death was a sure way of hitching a ride on a spaceship. They put on new pairs of Nike Decades before eating phenobarbital and tying bags around their heads. Among the dead in Rancho Santa Fe was Thomas Nichols, whose sister Nichelle played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek. “He made his choices, and we respect those choices,” she told Larry King.
One month later, a Pegasus rocket carrying the remains of Dr. Timothy Leary, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, physicist and space colonization advocate Gerard O’Neill, Operation Paperclip beneficiary Krafft Ehricke, and 20 other former space enthusiasts launched from the Canary Islands. The short video below presents the historic voyage of the first dead people in space and the Earth memorial service for their living relatives.
Still in business, Celestis Memorial Spaceflights will put grandma on the Moon for $12.5K. Happy belated birthday to William Shatner.