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Space burials...the final frontier
Star Trek actor James Doohan is newest individual to launch his ashes into space.
July 20, 2005: 4:59 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - While "Star Trek" fans mourn Wednesday's death of actor James Doohan, who played the role of Montgomery Scott, the Scottish chief engineer on the Starship Enterprise, they can at least know he is receiving a fitting tribute by spending a part of the afterlife in space.

Making his intentions known to his family, Doohan will become the newest individual opting to send his ashes into the Earth's orbit.

Doohan died early Wednesday morning at his home in Redmond, Washington from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease.

Space Services Inc., the company that will carry Doohan's ashes into space and the only company that offers such a service, confirmed that they will carry out the actor's wishes.

"We're pleased that he selected us and we're honored to have him," said Charles Chafer, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Space Services Inc.

Started in 1995, Space Services has, to date, launched the ashes of over 100 individuals into space via rocket and plans to send 150 cannisters containing ashes, including those of Doohan, into the cosmos by the end of the year.

The cost for the service, says Chafer, depends on which memorial package you select. Sending one gram of an individual's ashes into space currently costs $995 while a seven-gram version runs $5,300. The average weight of an individual's ashes weighing approximately five to seven pounds (2200 to 3200 grams).

The cannisters containing the remains can stay in orbit anywhere from several years to several hundred years depending on the rocket's final altitude. Eventually they re-enter the Earth's atmosphere before burning up completely, which Space Services calls their "ashes to ashes" service.

While the most recent launch was in September of 2001, Chafer believes that there is enough of a demand to have one rocket launch every three months, launching 1,000 individuals a year into space.

Those individuals that have opted for the service so far come from a variety of backgrounds and geographic locales, says Chafer. Both professional truck drivers and restaurant owners have participated as well as individuals from divergent locations as Japan, England and India.

But one way or another, says Chafer, they all share a fascination with space.

"The motivation is either an interest in space, astronomy, science fiction or being at one with the universe," says Chafer. "Some see it as a spiritual choice."

Doohan will not be the first "Trekkie" launched in to space. The ashes of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the "Star Trek" series, were launched into space in 1997 six years after his death in 1991. He was joined by the 1960s counterculture icon and drug campaigner Timothy Leary.

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