Longtime Shenandoah resident’s cremated remains to reach the final frontier

By: Woodlands Online Staff
| Published 11/29/2022


THE WOODLANDS, TX – James Matthew Weatherby, a longtime resident of Shenandoah, passed away on June 22 last year at the age of 47. One of his lifelong dreams – even written about in a 1987 school assignment when he was 13 – was to reach space.

James Weatherby’s family fulfills his lifelong wish to travel to space

Even though he died before ever stepping foot inside a space vehicle, his loving widow, Melody, is allowing his dream to posthumously come true; she found and chartered a company to take his ashes into space.

Celestis, Inc., the pioneer and global leader in memorial spaceflight services, has started its countdown for the Aurora Flight launch, scheduled for November 30, out of New Mexico's Spaceport America. The mission is the ninth collaboration between Celestis and UP Aerospace, which will launch a SpaceLoft XL rocket carrying the Celestis cremation memorials.

James’ fascination with space started from an early age. Being the adventure seeker that he was, he managed to get the opportunity to go to Space Camp when he was younger, which all fueled his interest in space and things space related. He and Melody even got married in 2004 on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D at the Star Trek: The Experience exhibit in Las Vegas.

Much like he spent his life helping his friends and family and sharing with them the many adventure stories he had, now his family gets to give him the biggest adventure yet, going to the final frontier that he loved so much.

“He always loved space, we both did, from watching every real space launch since 1999 to watching Star Trek,” said Melody. “His ‘second mom’ – the mother of his best friend – suggested we find a way to launch him into space. We chose Celestis because it was a sensible decision; they were the most reliable and had the most flights.”

James and others on the November flight will briefly experience the weightlessness of space before returning safely to Earth. Each flown capsule, with the cremated remains or DNA sample still sealed inside, will be presented to family and other loved ones as a permanent keepsake.

“Celestis is deeply honored to send Mr. Weatherby on his final journey to space,” said Colby Youngblood, president of Celestis. “A memorial spaceflight is the perfect tribute for someone who was so passionate about Star Trek, and the final frontier it embraced.”

Melody was best friends with James for seven years before they married in 2004 – “It took him a long time to wear me down” – and talks of his history with loving fondness. When he was just a schoolboy, he completed a writing assignment stating that the two things he wanted to do before he died was to travel to space, and to write stories. “Now he’s able to have done both,” said Melody. “For years he was a great game-master at our Dungeons & Dragons sessions, and came up with such wonderful stories and entire universes. Now he gets to have his second wish fulfilled by Celestis.”

The Aurora Flight is UP Aerospace's twentieth launch from Spaceport America and the fourteenth of its SpaceLoft XL vehicle. The flight is dedicated to the mesmerizing aurora lights that serve as a beacon to those with a deep love of space and exploration. Reservations for this memorial launch are now closed; however, the launch date for the next Earth Rise mission will be posted soon. For more information on the Celestis Aurora Flight, visit the Celestis website at, or call 1-866-866-1186.

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