A seven-year-old Northern Ontario girl named Victoria Lehto is poised to become the youngest individual to have her DNA catapulted beyond the horizon of our moon, reaching into the profound silence of deep space. Her DNA will form a part of a select few hundred that will contribute to the farthest human outpost in space.
Victoria’s awe-inspiring journey towards this extraordinary honor is steeped in pure anticipation as she reports feeling “pretty excited” at the prospect of her DNA entering the vast expanse of space. This venture was born out of an innovative collaboration between Victoria’s father, Ryan Lehto, a revered expert in DNA preservation, and Celestis — a company previously famed for their memorial spaceflight services.
Ryan Lehto, globally renowned as the groundbreaking brain behind various DNA preservation and Biobanking products available today, said, “They wanted us to process DNA to go into space, so I developed some technology around that for it to be able to survive into space.”
The opportunity extended beyond mere theory and lab experiments, attracting a fairly exclusive clientele, including a few celebrities. When offered to send one’s own DNA into the next space mission, Ryan, without hesitation, chose Victoria.
Charles Chafer, co-founder of Celestis and CEO of Space Services Holdings Inc., deemed this landmark mission as “the ultimate father-daughter project.” In his view, it embodies optimism and an audacious belief in the future.
Victoria, displaying an early inclination towards the realm of science akin to her father, even oversaw the preparation of her DNA sample for the mission. She has cultivated an interest in nurturing a love for science among other children too, evident from her two-year-old YouTube channel imparting scientific knowledge. Her father, Ryan expressed, “She’s really interested in helping other kids learn about science too, Just trying to spark an interest and in the whole generation, getting kids involved in science at an early age.”
However, the road to this landmark launch hasn’t been smooth. Initially slated for May, the mission was postponed due to a hydrogen leak in one stage of the rocket. Victoria’s DNA, along with those of hundreds of others, is now pegged for launch in December. Despite the setback, every cloud has a silver lining, and Ryan can now accompany Victoria to Florida to witness the rocket’s charismatic liftoff in person.
Revealing her vibrant imagination, Victoria amusingly predicts, “(I think) aliens are going to get it and they’re going to make clones of me, and they’re going to attack the Earth.” As her DNA embarks on its voyage to deep space, potentially orbiting Mars or Venus, all we can hope for is that her forecasts remain purely fantastical.