How to Have a Funeral in Space
There is something about setting a funeral in space that makes us feel immortal. Maybe it is the vast size of it, spreading out over billions of galaxies. Maybe it is the timelessness, the idea that anything jettisoned out into space will keep moving forever. It could even be the beauty of it—the twinkling of a thousand starry nights is something humans have been admiring for centuries.
Whatever the reason, more and more people are choosing to look skyward to make funeral plans. Although we have not yet reached the point where we can affordably send entire bodies out into space, there are ways to get at least a part of your DNA out of this world.
- Shoot a part of your ashes into orbit. The most common (and affordable) way to hold a funeral in space is to look to a company like Celestis, Inc. or Elysium Space. These companies specialize in taking a small sample of your loved one’s cremated remains and placing them into orbit via a rocket launch. Known as space memorials, these packages are offered for as little as $1,000 (not including the actual cremation and care of your loved one).
- Moon burial. To date, no one is actually buried on the moon, but we are a little closer to this than you might think. Eugene Shoemaker, a geologist and planetary scientist who died in 1997, had a vial of his ashes “buried” on the moon. A portion of his remains was taken into space and launched from a NASA science craft doing routine studies. Because of the high speed of the ashes, they hit the moon at 3,800 mph. (There is also a memorial known as the Fallen Astronaut on the moon for the men and women who have given their lives in pursuit of space exploration.)
- Deep-freeze your body and send it flying. Okay, so this one is more science fiction than reality right now, but it is an idea many people are interested in pursuing. Cryonics (also known as cryogenics) is the process of flash-freezing the body and preserving the cells in hopes that future medicine will someday be able to find a cure and revive them. Some people want to take this idea one step further by freezing a body and then sending it to space on the off chance than an alien race might step up to provide the cure. Since this kind of “funeral” would cost millions of dollars, you can see why it has not caught on yet.
Space funerals might not yet be up to the pomp and circumstance of earthbound funerals, but it is an area that is likely to keep developing. Whether future generations colonizing other planets must come up with innovative ways to bury loved ones, or if we find ways to make space travel easy and affordable, this is one frontier the funeral industry will most likely continue to explore.