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SpaceX carried ‘cremains’ of 320 people into space

By Scott Powers, The Orlando Sentinel –

ORLANDO, Fla. — The SpaceX rocket that launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station also carried the cremated remains of 320 people, including former Mercury astronaut L. Gordon “Gordy” Cooper and James Doohan, immortalized in TV’s “Star Trek” by Captain Kirk’s command to “Beam me up, Scotty.”

For Celestis Inc., this is the 11th time since 1997 it has put cremains on rockets, and the second time on a SpaceX rocket. Typically, the Houston-based company sends up 1 gram of cremains in an urn the size of a watch battery for what its president, Charles Chafer, called a “symbolic space burial.” Prices start at $1,000 for a suborbital launch and $3,000 to go into orbit.

The cremains were onboard the rocket’s second stage, which will remain in orbit for about a year before burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.

That’s all most Celestis’ clients are seeking, Chafer said. The company does offer more expensive rides on lunar and deep-space missions, but those don’t come along very often.

Among others onboard are Ralph White, one of the co-discoverers of the Titanic; singer-song writer Randy VanWarmer; and a host of ordinary departed.

“Demand has always been there,” Chafer said. And now, with more rockets going up, “supply is finally catching up with demand.”

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