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Ashes of Star Trek Enterprise Crew Member Launched Into Space

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FINAL VOYAGE
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The ashes of actor James Doohan, who played Scotty in the original Star Trek series, were launched into space in the early hours of Tuesday morning, along with the ashes of 307 less famous people.

Celestis, a subsidiary of star-naming service Space Services Inc, and NASA-funded spaceship maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) teamed up to send the ashes off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 3:44 a.m. ET, ABC News reports.

The second time was the charm for the launch, which proved unsuccessful when the rocketmen tried it in 2008, three years after Doohan's death.

Also on board the Tuesday launch on SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 were the ashes of one-time astronaut Gordon Cooper, who died in 2004, and the remains of various civilians whose families had purchased space memorial services from Celestis.

Prices for sending a loved one's ashes into space range from $1,000 to nearly $13,000, according to the ABC News report. The trip planners cleared about $1 million.

NASA has ponied up about $300 million in funding for SpaceX, a private company that now has a $1.6 billion contract to make package-delivery trips to the International Space Station through 2015, according to Space.com.

This round, the unmanned space vehicle transported 1,014 pounds of food and other necessities to the space station. There's no need for the astronauts to sign for the ashes, though. The section with the remains was scheduled to separate from the main Dragon capsule a few minutes after liftoff.

"Falcon flew perfectly!!" SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reportedly tweeted from the company headquarters in Hawthorne, California. "Dragon in orbit, comm locked and solar arrays active!! Feels like a giant weight just came off my back."

Orbital Sciences Corp. (ORB) has also snared a cargo-run contract with NASA as part of the agency's initiative to involve the private sector in basic space missions.
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