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Star Trek's Scotty boldly goes where he always wanted to

James Doohan's ashes hitch a ride on the SpaceX Dragon

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Elon Musk's Dragon spaceship that successfully took off this morning was carrying extra special secret cargo: Star Trek's Chief Engineer Scott.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which launched the privately funded SpaceX craft containing supplies and science experiments for the International Space Station, also took up the ashes of actor James Doohan - who played Scotty in the hit sci-fi saga.

The remains of Doohan, who died in 2005 aged 85, were among those of more than 300 people who wanted their final resting place to be among the stars, ABC's Good Morning America reported.

Charles Chafer, chief exec of Space Services, confirmed the contents of the special cargo on his Facebook page, saying: "So much for our secret launch." Space Services is the parent company to Celestis, which specialises in memorial spaceflights.

Celestis put the ashes of Doohan, the cremated remains of Mercury programme astronaut Gordon Cooper and 306 other people's ashes in a container in the second stage component of the Falcon 9 rocket. When this detaches, it will orbit the Earth for about a year before disintegrating on reentry.

This is not Scotty's first attempt to escape our planet: Celestis already tried to blast Doohan and Cooper's ashes into space, but the capsule didn't make it far. Instead, it crash landed in the New Mexico mountains where it was found weeks later.

SpaceX also tried to send a portion of the actor's remains into space, but the rocket exploded.

Doohan's life ambition was to go to space for real after years of playing Enterprise engineer Montgomery Scott. Gordon Cooper piloted the Faith 7 spacecraft, the last flight of Project Mercury in 1963. He also commanded the Gemini 5 in 1965.

The celebrities will be accompanied by the ashes of hundreds of others, whose loved ones have paid to have their ashes taken into space. Celestis' prices for taking cremated remains into the cosmos vary from a starting cost of $995 for a spaceflight that will return to Earth, all the way up to $12,500 and over for a launch into deep space.

Some of this cash will have gone to SpaceX for providing the launch vehicle for the capsule. ®

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