The traditional funeral is about to get a space-age makeover. Elysium Space will soon be launching people’s ashes into outer space. The pioneering memorial spaceflight company announced that its Elysium Star II craft will be onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The startup is comprised mostly of former ex-NASA personnel and so-called “funeral experts.” In late 2017, Elysium Space announced plans to team up with Spaceflight, a provider of launch and mission management services. As part of the partnership, the companies hope to reduce the rather lengthy wait times for such “space funerals” from years to months.
Once customers are registered, they receive a kit with a capsule for their loved one’s ashes. This is then shipped to Elysium Space, at which point the capsule is placed inside of the spacecraft. After launch, the capsule containing the ashes will orbit the Earth for two years. Elysium Space also plans to release a companion app that allows customers to track the spacecraft as it orbits the planet. As part of this descending orbit, the capsule will eventually incinerate upon reentry, allowing your loved one to go out in a literal flaming ball of glory.
There are currently 100 bookings for the initial Elysium Star II mission and the total cost to send a single capsule of ashes to space will be just shy of $2,500. This price will surely only decrease as SpaceX continues to advance its rocketry systems and drive down the cost of each launch. The company made history earlier this year when it successfully launched and landed a recycled rocket. This cost-saving strategy has helped pave the way for startups like Elysium Space and others.
In all fairness, Elysium Space is far from the first entity to launch human ashes into space. A capsule containing Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s ashes was carried to space onboard STS-52, a 1992 space shuttle mission. Similarly, Clyde Tombaugh, the human who discovered Pluto, had his ashes stored in vial aboard the New Horizons spacecraft. That said, Mr. Tombaugh’s ashes will be the first human remains to exit our solar system.
The Elysium Space mission launch date has yet to be confirmed, although it will take place at the Vandenberg Air Force Base.
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