Young Leukemia Victim’s Ashes to Orbit The Earth

Thursday, November 4th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The remains of a young Tulsa boy who died of Leukemia in September will orbit the earth for the next 40 years. His ashes will be sent up on a space shuttle and released into space next month.

September Brown remembers the joy her son Greg brought to her life. The 14-year-old died of leukemia in September. He was diagnosed last March and received a bone marrow transplant in August. Afterwards, Brown says things took a turn for the worst. "We took him back to the hospital and they discovered his lungs were hemorrhaging,” she said. “They readmitted him and put him on a ventilator."

The doctors told Brown that her son would never come off the ventilator. Shortly after, he died. "Greg always wanted to be an astronaut,” she said. When he got sick with leukemia, he said, “Mom, if I can't be an astronaut, at least I want to work on the shuttles or help build the rockets,” she remembered.

Brown made it her mission to send her boy into space. She contacted a Florida congressman she had met during her son’s struggle in the hospital. He contacted a space mission company named Celestis. The company actually performs burials in outer space. But Brown couldn't afford to pay the hefty price it costs to perform the service. So
Celestis told the grieving mother it would sponsor her son, and send his remains into space at no charge. "I'm absolutely amazed,” Brown said. “I never thought that anything like this could ever happen to us."

The young Brown’s ashes will be put in a small tube along with the ashes of 37 other people and placed in a special container. The container will then be placed aboard a specially built shuttle and launched into space. The container will then be released to orbit the earth for 40 years.

Part of the boy’s ashes is already buried in Tulsa. His bone marrow donor serves on a Navy ship and will spread some of the boy’s ashes at sea. This way, the earth, sea, and space will share a part of Brown’s son.

The shuttle will launch from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California on December 9th. The Brown family can't afford the trip to watch the launch.