Sunday, August 03, 2008

Scotty should have beamed up.
Spaceflight's not easy: Space X loses "Scotty" (and a rocket)

... thanks to the Ansari X Prize, private rocketeers have been working hard to end the state monopoly on spaceflight. Unfortunately, it's not all smooth launching, as Space X discovered with the loss of its Falcon 1 rocket yesterday...

Space X hasn't just lost a rocket, though. The flight was carrying a trio of small satellites belonging to NASA and the DoD. Perhaps less seriously, but probably more newsworthy, the ashes of over 200 people were also on board, including ... "Scotty" himself, James Doohan... [Arstechnica]
Doohan was a real hero. He took six bullets during the D-day invasion working his way through a minefield, had a finger shot off, his life was saved when a bullet hit his silver cigarrette case in his chest pocket. That wasn't enough for him to go home -- after it he transferred to become a combat pilot.

He died with a third wife 35 years younger than him and a 5-year old kid. I won't be sexist about the younger wife, but from my experence it must take some sort of special courage to father a child at the age of 80 as he did.

After Star Trek he lamented to his dentist about being typecast into unemployment, and his dentist told him: Actors strive their whole lives to build an identifiable character, "The Duke", Cooper, Gable, you've done it, you're "Scotty" to millions. Don't act anyone else, be Scotty. He did, did fine doing so, and by all accounts he was a great guy.

Happily, that failed space shot didn't lose all of his ashes, only 1/4 of an ounce -- and they'd already been in space in a sub-orbital flight.

"Scotty is ninety-nine percent James Doohan and one percent accent."

Yeah, he was a hero of mine as a kid, my favorite on the show -- in the whole dang franchise -- and it's always nice when a kid grows up and learns he wasn't wrong about his hero. It doesn't happen enough.