Because Carl Sagan once reminded us that we are all made of star stuff, there might be a few people who wish to go quietly into the night by sending their ashes into space.
A San Franciso-based company called Elysium Space pledges to send the cremated remains of clients out into space for $2,000. They are contracting with several commercial space flight companies and plan to send their first satellite into orbit next year from Cape Canaveral in Florida. (As a sidenote, this company has nothing to do with that sci-fi movie starring Matt Damon that’s coming out today under the same name.)
“These are the kind of people who think space is a unique and beautiful place,” said CEO Thomas Civeit, a former software engineer at Nasa Ames who helped maintain the Hubble Telescope. He pointed to SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has professed a wish to die on Mars.
With the average funeral costing roughly $6,000, according to the National Funeral Director’s Association, Elysium’s costs are actually not a bad deal either.
Clients get a kit with a custom ash capsule that they can scoop their loved ones’ remains into. (You can hire a funeral professional to do it for you.)
They ship the capsule back to Elysium, and the company places it into the spacecraft with a message of the client’s choice engraved onto the spacecraft’s metal plates.
The satellite may circle the earth for months or years before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up.
“The satellite re-enters the earth atmosphere as a burning star,” he said.
But eventually, Civeit would like to offer people the ability to scatter their ashes on the moon or send them out into deep space.
“Some want their ashes launched into the sun,” he said.
Elysium also has an app paired with the service that can help families track their loved ones in the skies. It’s only on Android for now, but Civeit plans to launch an iOS version soon.
Civeit says he’s in the process of raising funding. Elysium isn’t the only company offering space funerals. Celestis launched more than five years ago, but they charge about $5,000 for a comparable service that sends a person’s remains out into orbit. Celestis also has cheaper packages at about $1,000 that send a person’s remains out on a spaceflight that ultimately returns to Earth, and then packages that cost more than $12,000 that will send a person’s ashes into deep space.