You might not think that the infinite void of space would be a popular final resting place for anyone, but you would be wrong. Just ask Gordon Cooper, an Air Force pilot and astronaut with 7,000 hours of flight time. After helping humanity reach the stars in Project Mercury, the first manned space program undertaken by the United States, it seems appropriate that a portion of his ashes be flown into the great beyond, not that it was easy getting him there after his death in 2004.
In 2007, some of his ashes (along with those of others) were sent up on a suborbital flight. The capsule fell back to Earth (as was planned in this case), but bad weather meant that it wouldn’t be found for a few weeks. A portion of his remains was sent up on a rocket in 2008 but was lost when the rocket failed two minutes into the flight. Finally, in May 2012, some more of his ashes were sent into space successfully, where they remained for a month before burning up upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere.[
Cooper is far from the only person to have their remains grace the starry skies above. The ashes of James Doohan, better known as Star Trek ’s Scotty, was on the same 2007 flight with the pioneering astronaut, as were those of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.