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Stephen Hawking's ashes buried between graves of Darwin and Newton

Dean of Westminster, John Hall, accompanied by Stephen Hawking's first wife Jane Hawking, watches as his daughter Lucy Hawking, places flowers at the site of the interment of the ashes of British scientist Stephen Hawking in the nave of the Abbey church during a memorial service at Westminster Abbey, Britain, June 15, 2018.

POOL / REUTERS

LONDON -- Stephen Hawking has taken his place among Britain's greatest scientists with the burial of his ashes in Westminster Abbey, between the graves of Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. More than 1,000 people Friday attended a service of thanksgiving for the physicist, who died in March at age 76 after decades of living with motor neuron disease.

The service included readings by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a BBC drama, and astronaut Tim Peake.

There were also tributes from Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and Nobel prize winner Kip Thorne.

After the service, Hawking's words, set to music by Greek composer Vangelis, are to be beamed into space from a European Space Agency satellite dish in Spain. Hawking's daughter, Lucy, said the music would be aimed at "the nearest black hole, 1A 0620-00."

The ashes were interred in Scientists' Corner, a section of the Abbey dedicated to those who have made significant breakthroughs.

A memorial stone will be put in place atop the burial spot with the inscription: "Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking 1942 - 2018."

The stone is also inscribed with one of Hawking's most famed equations.

Guests at the service included 1,000 members of the public selected by ballot.

A private funeral service was held in Cambridge in March.

Hawking was just 21 when he was diagnosed with ALS -- Lou Gehrig's disease -- and told he had just a few years to live.

Undaunted, he defied his prognosis by decades -- pursuing his research at Cambridge while communicating through computerized speech, astonishing even himself, as he once told "60 Minutes":   "For me, it is quite an achievement. I never thought I would get so far."