A company providing very unique service has become a new client for SpaceX — Elysium, which creates memorial spacecraft commissioned to commemorate individuals, announced that It will launch its first-ever extraterrestrial tribute aboard an upcoming SpaceX shared Falcon 9 launch. Dubbed SSO-A, the SpaceX mission is a “Dedicated Rideshare” launch, which includes payloads from multiple clients, including Terra Bella (formerly part of Google and now part of Planet), as well as Elysium launch logistics partner Spaceflight.
The forthcoming launch does not have a specific target window yet, but is slated to launch from SpaceX’s launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California sometime next year. Though if successful, it’ll be the first memorial spacecraft sent into orbit, it’s not Elysium’s first attempt to launch a memorial satellite. The first was made in 2015 with a CubeSat (small, affordable satellite) aboard the USAF Super Strypi rocket, a launch which ultimately ended in failure.
This launch will include customers from the previous launch attempt, but it will also carry some of the cremated remains of additional customers, with room for 300 small containers of ashes on the spacecraft in total. Reservations on the satellite cost around $2,500 per individual, and the service also includes a smartphone app that tracks the position of the satellite in orbit once deployed. The CubeSat is designed to orbit for around two years before burning up upon reentry to earth’s atmosphere.
It’s a unique form of commercialized space activity, but one that will likely hold a lot of appeal for a category of customer who are keen on commemorating their friends and relatives in a very unique way.