Only twelve people have stepped on the surface of the Moon, but soon, thanks to the space burial service Elysium Space, the first person in the new millennium will make the moon their final resting place.
The San Francisco-based company’s first lunar burial will be the mother of Steve Jenks of Tennessee who lost her life to cancer. Jenks, an infantryman in the Iraq war received regular correspondence from his mother, who finished every letter by assuring him, “No matter how lonely you feel and how far you are, always look at the Moon and know I am with you. I love you to the Moon and back.”
Elysium has designed small metallic cubes to hold portions of the cremated remains of loved ones and is selling a service to launch clusters of these capsules into orbit or soft land them upon the lunar surface.
Elysium’s memorial services are part of the technological triumphs of a new generation of space industrialists, who have brought seemingly futuristic notions of asteroid mining, consumer space flight, and commercial satellite technologies into the mainstream. Companies like Elysium posit that memorials and tourism will greatly strengthen humanity’s link to the stars.
Indeed, the lunar journey will be a combined effort of the new space industry. Elysium Space is partnering with Astrobotic from Pittsburgh, which itself will utilize the launch services of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 vehicle. Astrobotic’s Mission One will be competing for the XPRIZE by landing at Lacus Mortis near Bürg Crater in the northeast section of the near side of the Moon.
Elysium Space isn’t stopping there. The company offers three types of space-based memorial services. The Shooting Star Memorial will loft the remains of loved ones into low-Earth orbit and from there, gravity and the Earth’s tenuous upper atmosphere will return the capsules and contents back to Earth as a shooting star. Already Elysium has booked a launch late this year.
More ambitiously, Elysium will offer the Milky Way Memorial, sending memorials into deep space. While commencement of Elysium’s deep space memorial is a few years off, the remains of the famous astronomer Clyde Tombaugh have now become the first to leave the Solar System. The New Horizons space probe, which just flew by the planet Pluto, is carrying his ashes into deep space.
The delivery of the memorial will begin with the launch of a Falcon 9 that sends an Astrobotic Griffin lander and its propulsion system through a first phase journey. Astrobotic’s Griffin will take charge of the translunar trajectory and propel itself to the surface. Then a technology developed through a partnership between Nvidia and General Electric will power an automated landing system that is effectively astronaut-like navigation in-a-box.
“We are democratizing access to space and we [see] it as the first stage to the lofty goals of asteroid mining, space-based solar power, or space tourism.”
The first 50 reservations are offered at $9,950, discounted $2000. To Steven Jenks, it’s a fitting memorial to his mother.