Aside from health purposes, burials are widely recognized as the most common and appropriate ritual to bring closure to the family and to demonstrate respect for the dead. With the advent of new technology, new methods to fulfill the aforementioned have manifested. In fact, most recently, a unique opportunity for the bereaved proves to be a viable option to memorialize the life of the deceased. Elysium Space is preparing to extend their mortuary services by launching human ashes into space. It is the hope of the company that by 2014 they will begin sending cremated human parts into space via a memorial spaceflight.
It is estimated that the cost of a space burial will be set at $2,000, much lower than the national average for burials in the United States and thus making it a more affordable option. According to Elysium Space, customers receive an ash capsule that will contain a “symbolic portion” of ashes and on which they can engrave a limited number of initials. Once the capsule arrives at the company’s launch site, they will engrave a personalized remembrance message to be attached to the spacecraft. Finally, the capsule is launched into space only to return to Earth a few months later from orbit, where it will ultimately burn up. The most captivating part about this space burial experience is that the bereaved can track their loved one’s ashes while in orbit through a mobile application. Also, when the ashes burn up while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, it will resemble a shooting star.
This is a very interesting proposal and so I look forward to seeing the success rate of such a unique mortuary experience. It is reported that there have been interests for the services of Elysium Space from people in both the United States and Japan. A concern, though, of many individuals will probably be the fact that by launching these particles into space, we would be adding to the already significant space polluting issue. Also, there will also be a number of those who think that this is another method of making money off of the dead, perpetuating the use of practices that commercialize death. So, not all will be thrilled with such an innovation. However, space burials prove to be an economic advantage to those who cannot afford a traditional funeral service and they also provide a memorable experience that should guide the bereaved during their period of grief, but also help to facilitate the healing process. I do think that it may be wise for the company to offer cremation services in addition to the launch of the memorial spaceflight. Even so, space burials are an alternative that definitely should not be ignored.
For more information about the Elysium Space Company and space burials, follow the link below to access the Launching to Heaven: Space Burial Company to Send Human Ashes into Orbit article: