Actor James Doohan's family is celebrating after keeping a major secret for the past 12 years.
The late Doohan, who famously portrayed chief engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott on the original TV series "Star Trek," had his ashes smuggled aboard the International Space Station, where they fittingly float in space today.
"I have been keeping a secret for over 12 years," Chris Doohan, one of the sons of the "Star Trek" actor wrote on Twitter, adding a link to a Dec. 25 article from the Times of London that revealed the secret. The Starship Enterprise engineer has travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times, after his ashes were hidden secretly on the ISS.
Doohan died in 2005 at age 85 and always had dreamed in resting among the stars.
"My dad had three passions: space, science and trains. He always wanted to go into space," Chris Doohan told the Times.
Richard Garriott, an entrepreneur and one of the first private citizens in space, says he smuggled James Doohan’s ashes onto the ISS in 2008 during a 12-day mission as a private astronaut in a plot concocted by Chris Doohan.
The caper entailed printing three cards with a Doohan photograph and laminating each with a sprinkling of ashes sealed inside hidden inside his flight data file.
"Everything that officially goes on board is logged, inspected and bagged — there’s a process, but there was no time to put it through that process," Garriott told the Times.
One of the three cards is framed on a wall in Doohan’s California home, which Doohan tweeted Saturday.
— Chris Doohan (@ChrisDoohan) December 26, 2020
Garriott floated another into space. The third is under the cladding on the floor of the space station’s Columbus module, where he hid it in 2008.
"As far as I know, no one has ever seen it there and no one has moved it," Garriott said. "James Doohan got his resting place among the stars."
Chris Doohan, an actor who played Scotty in the web series "Star Trek Continues," tells USA TODAY over e-mail that he is thrilled to finally tell the story.
“I never knew when or if I would be able to ever say anything," he said. "I visit fan conventions all around the world, for years now, and I have been holding on to this secret for 12 years. It was hard not sharing this with fans. I now have a great sense of relief that I can talk about this and share this amazing story as I continue my father's legacy.”
NASA declined to comment on the story, since Garriott was a Space Flight Participant with the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
A NASA statement to USA TODAY did address the wide interest in the story of Doohan's ashes. "NASA has a long cultural connection with 'Star Trek' and can appreciate the interest fans around the world have in this story."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Star Trek' Scotty: James Doohan's ashes smuggled on Space Station