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Space launch of Thunder Bay girl's DNA moves to fourth quarter of 2023

A new rocket that's still under development requires modifications before it can be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida

THUNDER BAY — A Thunder Bay man and his young daughter are learning that patience is a virtue when it comes to rocket science.

Ryan Lehto and six-year-old Victoria were expecting their DNA to be launched into deep space on a brand new rocket as early as May.

Then Lehto got news that a problem with a hydrogen leak in one stage of the rocket would postpone the launch to June or July.

Just recently, he's learned that the delay will be longer than that, and that the United Launch Alliance — a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin — now hopes to fire off its Vulcan Centaur rocket from Cape Canaveral sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

"It's a bit frustrating," Lehto told TBnewwatch Monday. "But I can be patient. It's been busy at work, and this will give me more time to get away to Florida" to watch the launch whenever it does happen.

Lehto owns Global Genetic Health, a local company established in 2019 that does DNA processing and serves a variety of clients.

A business connection with Celestis Inc., which has rented space on the Vulcan to send human DNA and cremated human remains to space, provided him with an opportunity to include his family's DNA on the upcoming launch for no fee.

He expects his child will be the youngest person to date whose DNA has been shot off the planet. 

The same mission, dubbed Enterprise by Celestis, will carry the genetic material of several legendary actors from the Star Trek TV series.

Global Genetic Health processed their DNA at its laboratory located in the Chapple Building on Victoria Avenue.

A spokesperson for Celestis said it's keeping its clients up to date as work on the Vulcan continues, and that everyone understands that delays such as this are to be expected when a new rocket is under development.

United Launch Alliance CEO Torn Bruno stated last week, "We have the root cause. We have the corrective action," for a hydrogen leak that occurred during testing of an upper stage of the rocket in late March.

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