In recent months at Funeral Director Daily we have kept up with what we think are some of the newer ways to memorialize that consumers are thinking about such as alkaline hydrolysis, recombination (human composting), potential outdoor cremation and the like. Until we saw this article we had forgot all about Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – that may seem new, but was founded a quarter of a century ago.
Sometime between Monday, June 24 at 11:30 am and Tuesday, June 25 at 2:30 pm (all times U.S. Eastern time), weather permitting, the 3rd Falcon heavy rocket operated by Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, will launch and it will be carrying 24 satellites that are intended to orbit the earth. One of those satellites will carry cargo paid for by Celestis Memorial Spaceflights that will encapsulate a sleeve of containers holding portions of the cremated remains of 152 individuals.
I had forgotten all about Celestis until I saw this article. Celestis created a stir among funeral traditionalists when they announced their company in 1994 as something new and different in the death care business space which at that time was about 85% traditional casketed funerals. From going to their website I learned that today’s flight will be their 16th launch and they have served over 1000 families from 20 different countries. And, I predict, that in this internet era of information, and the relative reasonable cost of this service as compared to grave lots, monuments and the like, that this type of permanent memorialization will grow well into the future.
Families for today’s flight will have paid between $5000 and $12,500 for a small round capsule filled with between 1 and 7 grams of cremated remains to receive space on the rocket and satellite. The engraved capsules will be glued into a metal sleeve and that metal sleeve will be fastened to the upper deck of one of the satellites that will be set to continuously orbit earth. You can actually see the real time tracking of previous Celestis satellites here. I would suggest also going to this story on the launch where you can see photos of the capsules and the sleeve.
From the Celestis web-site I was able to find out that of the 1000 or so people immortalized with memorial spaceflights they include United States Mercury 7 astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Timothy Leary the 1960’s counter-culture icon, and James Doohan, the actor who played Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott – better known as “Scotty” from the television show Star Trek.
You can see the biographies of the 152 souls carried by SpaceX today here.