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Indianapolis woman to be honored on historic deep space mission

Jo Ann Holder Memorial.png
Posted at 9:12 AM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 09:13:50-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Jo Ann Holder always longed for her final resting place to be among the stars.

When she passed away in 2019, her son Joe Cassady set out to make that wish a reality.

“From the time I could remember, she was sitting me down in front of the TV every time there was a launch or something happening I was watching it," Cassady said.

On January 8, her remains along with more than 200 others, will be launched on Celestis’ Deep Space Voyager mission, known as the Enterprise flight.

Also on the flight will be the remains of original cast and crew members of Star Trek and even President George Washington.

“She loved her grandchildren, the space program and Purdue athletics," Cassady said.

Holder’s fascination began in the 1960s, when America turned its attention to the Moon race.

In her lifetime, she witnessed over two dozen launches from Kennedy Space Center.

Her passion inspired Cassady to begin a career in aerospace.

He works for a company that builds rockets and — as a coincidence — will be helping fulfill his mother’s dream in more ways than one.

“We’re actually providing the rocket engines for the upper stage on the launch. When they go out and do the maneuver to go into orbit around the sun, we’re gonna be the engine that does that," he said.

Holder had a career in law enforcement with the Indianapolis Public School Board.

She loved photography and had a never-ending sense of wonder.

Cassady says now, he’ll feel her spirit anytime he looks up at the sky.

“I can always say when I look out to the moon and beyond, mom is out there," he said.

If you’d like to honor a deceased loved one or send DNA to deep space, you can reach out to Celestis for reservations.

Its second upcoming Voyager Mission, known as the Infinite Flight, is tentatively scheduled for 2025.