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Scotty's Final Trip To The Final Frontier

Paramount In this undated file photo originally supplied by Paramount Pictures, James Doohan is shown during an appearance on "Star Trek:The Next Generation" TV series. Doohan, the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and movies who responded to the command "Beam me up, Scotty," died Wednesday, July 20, 2005. He was 85
AP/PARAMOUNT PICTURES
The cremated remains of actor James Doohan, who portrayed engineer "Scotty" on "Star Trek," and of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper soared briefly into suborbital space Saturday aboard a rocket.

It was the first successful launch from Spaceport America, a commercial spaceport being developed in the southern New Mexico desert.

Suzan Cooper and Wende Doohan fired the rocket carrying small amounts of their husbands' ashes at 8:56 a.m. local time.

"Go baby, go baby," said Eric Knight of the commercial launch company, UP Aerospace Inc. of Farmington, Connecticut.

Since it was a suborbital flight, the rocket soon plummeted back to Earth, coming down at the White Sands Missile Range. The payload with the remains descended by parachute.

"We nailed it. We stuck the landing," said Knight.

UP Aerospace launched the first rocket from the desert site in September, but that Spaceloft XL rocket crashed into the desert after spiraling out of control about nine seconds after liftoff. Company officials blamed the failure on a faulty fin design.

(Getty Images/AFP/Robyn Beck)
Family members paid $495 to place a few grams of their relatives' ashes on the rocket. Celestis, a Houston company, contracted with UP to send the cremated remains into space.

Charles Chafer, chief executive of Celestis, said last month that a CD with more than 11,000 condolences and fan notes was placed on the rocket with Doohan's remains.

Doohan died in July 2005 at age 85. The remains of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry were sent into space in 1997.

The launch from the fledgling spaceport — currently a 100-foot by 25-foot concrete slab in a patch of desert more than 50 miles north of Las Cruces — keeps the New Mexico project ahead of its nearest competitor, in West Texas.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is said to be developing the spaceport north of Van Horn, Texas. Bezos' Blue Origin is working to develop tourist space flights.

British billionaire Richard Branson also has announced plans to launch a space tourism company, which is expected to have its headquarters at the New Mexico spaceport.