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Doohan's last landing party missing in mountains

Probably gone where no one has gone before

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The cremated remains of Star Trek actor James Doohan are missing in the New Mexico mountains along with those of another 200 people, including NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper.

They had been sent as part of a memorial package, in which relatives send small samples of their loved ones' ashes into sub-orbital space. The samples are then supposed to be recovered and returned to the families with memorial plaques detailing their final journey.

Things went well to begin with. After a perfect launch, the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket that was carrying the ashes kept on a perfect trajectory. their trip into almost orbit was uneventful, and the parachute carrying the capsules deployed perfectly.

But the capsule landed in rocky terrain, and people searching the planned landing zone have come back empty handed.

One wag on Slashdot says: "Is it just me, or does it seem appropriate that they lost the landing party? Here's to a safe recovery!"

Another opine: "I guess the engines really couldn't take it."

According to reports, the payload was equipped with a tracking device, but the mountains are interfering with the signal. They have been able to locate it to within a 400 metre radius, but on rough ground finding it is proving difficult.

A new search is being planned for next week and will be joined by experts from the transmitter's manufacturers. They will bring plenty of mountain search experience, as well as more sensitive tracking equipment. ®

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