Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Now it's Scotty's turn to be beamed up one last time


The ashes of the actor who played Scotty in Star Trek were blasted into orbit on the first privately-owned rocket to go to the International Space Station (ISS).

The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida with a capsule containing the remains of James Doohan and 307 other people.

The capsule was released nine minutes into the flight, organised by the company SpaceX, and will orbit Earth for a year before being pulled back into the atmosphere and disintegrated.

Falcon 9's main mission is to deliver a capsule called Dragon, containing 435kg of food and clothing for astronauts on the ISS. It's expected to dock in a few days.

SpaceX, owned by the South African-born billionaire Elon Musk, already holds contracts worth $3.5bn to fly cargo to the station. Falcon 9 has been due to take off on Saturday but the launch was cancelled at the last minute so that a faulty engine valve could be replaced. "Falcon flew perfectly!!" Mr Musk said on Twitter yesterday. "Dragon in orbit. Feels like a giant weight just came off my back."

Flight controllers applauded when the Dragon reached orbit nine minutes into the flight. Many wore T-shirts and jeans or even shorts, a stark contrast to NASA's suit-and-tie crowd.

The real test comes on Thursday, when the Dragon reaches the vicinity of the ISS. It will undergo practice manoeuvres and if all goes well, the docking will occur on Friday.

Canadian Doohan, whose Star Trek character was the subject of Captain Kirk's famous catchphrase, "Beam me up, Scotty," died in 2005, aged 85, and requested that his remains be taken into space. However, the phrase "Beam me up, Scotty," was never actually spoken on the long-running sci-fi television show.