Connecticut Company Launches 'Scotty' into Space
UPHAM, N.M. (1010 WINS) -- The cremated remains of actor James Doohan, who portrayed "Scotty'' of the Star Trek starship Enterprise, and Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper sailed into suborbital space Saturday morning aboard a rocket launched from the southern New Mexico desert. It marked the first successful launch from Spaceport America, a commercial spaceport being developed in Upham, N.M.Suzan Cooper and Wende Doohan fired the rocket carrying their husbands' ashes. It took off at 8:56 a.m. local time and disappeared into the atmosphere within 12 seconds.``Go baby, go baby,'' said Eric Knight, UP Aerospace Inc. of Farmington, Conn., while standing among the crowd of onlookers.The rocked landed at White Sands Missile Range shortly after 9 a.m.``We nailed it. We stuck the landing,'' said Knight, whose company launched the first rocket from the desert site in September.But that Spaceloft XL rocket crashed into the rugged desert after spiraling out of control about 9 seconds after liftoff. Company officials blamed the failure on a faulty fin design. A Spaceloft SL-2 rocket, with a fourth fin added for stability, carried the remains, which were loaded into the rocket last month.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 Gene Roddenberry, who created ``Star Trek,'' were sent into space in1997.Saturday's launch from the fledgling spaceport, currently concrete slab in a patch of desert more than 50 miles north of Las Cruces, continues to keep the New Mexico project ahead of its nearest competitor in the West Texas desert.Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is said to be developing a spaceport north of Van Horn, Texas. Bezos' Blue Origin is working to develop manned spaceflight for space tourists.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.