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SpaceX takes Star Trek's 'Scotty' to the Final Frontier

SpaceX: The ashes of the actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on 'Star Trek' were launched to space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The price?  $2,995 to launch 1 gram of ashes into Earth orbit.

By Clara MoskowitzSpace.com / May 22, 2012

Actors William Shatner (left) and James Doohan, who played Scotty, are seen here in the 1994 movie 'Star Trek Generations.' SpaceX launched a container with Doohan's ashes in to Earth orbit Tuesday.

Elliott Marks / Paramount

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Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Scotty has finally been beamed up. The ashes of the actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on the 1960s television series "Star Trek," were launched to space this morning (May 22) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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The unmanned Falcon 9 blasted off at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) from here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, carrying the Dragon capsule filled with cargo bound for the International Space Station. Also packed aboard the rocket was a secondary payload carrying remains from 308 people, including Doohan and Mercury program astronaut Gordon Cooper, according to ABC News and Reuters.

The ashes were flown under an agreement between the spacecraft's builder, private rocket company SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of Hawthorne, Calif.) and Celestis, a company that books memorial spaceflights to "launch a symbolic portion of your loved one's ashes into space," according to its website.

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"We had a Celestis canister on the second stage, not on Dragon," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said at a news conference after the launch. "They've actually been a customer of ours since 2005 or 2006."

The Falcon 9 rocket's second stage separated from the capsule nine minutes and 49 seconds into the flight, and is now orbiting on its own above Earth. The second stage will likely stay in orbit for about a year before it falls back toward the ground and is burned up during re-entry. [Photos: SpaceX's Dragon Launches to Space Station]

In addition to the human ashes, SpaceX's Falcon 9/Dragon flight launched about 1,014 pounds (460 kilograms) of cargo for the space station, including food and supplies for the crew, student-designed science experiments, computer equipment and commemorative souvenirs like mission patches and pins.

Burial in space

Celestis charges $2,995 to launch 1 gram of a person's ashes to Earth orbit. Deep space launches to the solar system start at $12,500, while suborbital flights that return to Earth begin at $995.

The human remains payload was not officially announced by SpaceX before today, although news reports publicized the inclusion of the ashes onboard Falcon 9.

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