Would you launch your cremated remains into space?
Memorial satellites are the new cemeteries
The future of space travel is a hotly debated topic, no doubt. But while people were fighting about whether we should really be trying to settle on Mars, others were preparing to send the ashes of their loved ones into orbit.
On December 3, 2018, the cremated remains of 100 people will blast out of Earth's atmosphere in a memorial satellite carried by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. San Francisco-based company Elysium Space said families paid about US$2,500 to have a sample of their loved ones' ashes placed aboard, and they're not the only company to offer this unique memorial service.
The phenomenon is called a "space burial" and can be arranged for both humans and animals. Contrary to popular belief, the cremated remains are not actually scattered in space and therefore do not contribute to space debris. The ashes apparently stay in the spacecraft until it either re-enters Earth's atmosphere and burns up upon re-entry, reaches another extraterrestrial destination like the Moon, or leaves the solar system and enters deep space.
Travelling into space this year will reportedly be the remains of military veterans and aerospace enthusiasts, alongside those whose families wanted to honour their loved ones by reuniting them with the stars. All of the ash samples will be placed in a four-inch square satellite called a cubesat, which families will be able to track in real-time through an app as it orbits the earth for about four years.
While the addition of a tracker app might seem to diminish the grand poetic gesture of returning someone to the universe, Celestis, another celestial memorial company, promises that, "There isn’t a more compelling memorial service for someone who loves science fiction, marvels at space or simply longs to be at one with the cosmos."
Space has seen some new stars too, particularly the ashes of 'Star Trek' actor James Doohan, who played Scotty, which were sent to space in 2012 among 320 other samples of cremated remains.
Like the old saying goes: ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust.
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