Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Space

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MADRID: There was no coffin or graveside eulogy, just a simple Pegasus rocket traveling at 6,200 mph and 22 lipstick-sized metal vials containing the ashes of Timothy Leary and "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, among others, for the first commercial burial in space. The containers will orbit the earth for up to10 years before reentering the atmosphere with a fiery explosion "blazing like a shooting star in final tribute," according to the Web site for Celestis Inc., the Houston-based company that organized the world's first space funeral. At $4800 per vial, the space shot costs about $1000 more than conventional services, and company President Chan Tysor says demand is booming. A second space funeral, this time carrying 150 vials, is planned for late 1997.