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Ashes of Waterloo, Ont. entrepreneur to be launched into space aboard historic mission


The ashes of a Waterloo man will join the DNA of some famous historical figures on a first-of-its-kind mission into space.

The remains of entrepreneur Udo Petersen will be aboard the ULA Vulcan rocket that will launch into space on Jan. 8.

The mission is being carried out by Celestis, a memorial spaceflight company.

“This will be the first time in our civilization’s history that we will send DNA out into space,” said president Colby Youngblood. “It's going 330 million kilometres out into what's called a heliocentric orbit around the sun.”

The rocket will have the DNA and ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek star Nichelle Nichols, as well as three former U.S. presidents: George Washington, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

Remains of Star Trek creator Gene and Majel Barrett Roddenberry, and Star Trek stars James Doohan and Nichelle Nichols. (Source: Celestis)


Petersen emigrated from Germany to Canada in 1967.

He would go on to become a successful businessman in Waterloo Region. Petersen co-founded Bend All Tools & Machines in New Dundee, Ont. as a three-person operation in 1976. The company, later known as Bend All Automotive, rapidly expanded and would eventually employ a team of over 1,200.

“His motto was bigger, better, faster, stronger,” said daughter Nicole Petersen.

After retirement Petersen founded the Ridge at Manitou, an 18-hole golf course in McKellar, Ont.

An undated photo of Udo Petersen. (Source: Celestis)


His family said Petersen had a lifelong passion for astronomy and was curious about the possibility of life beyond Earth.

“When he got sick, he had a massive brain hemorrhage. He didn't remember a lot of things but he still remembered his curiosity about the world and what is out there. He used to say to us there's a place out there, there's another world,” said Nicole.

When Petersen died in Sept. 2021, his daughters had the idea to send his ashes into space. They coordinated with the funeral home and Celestis to turn their dream into a reality.

“It kind of serves as a cosmic archive or a cosmic time capsule with a snapshot of what's happening in our on our planet right now,” Nicole said.

Celestis said alternate burials, like space burials, are becoming more popular.

“You put a headstone at a cemetery, it will only last a certain amount of time. Space burials will be the oldest memorials that it will outlast everything on Earth,” said Youngblood.

Celestis’ deep space burial missions cost on average US$13,000. Sub-orbital missions start at $3,000 and orbital missions are over $5,000. Top Stories

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