SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in flight

‘Memorial spacecraft’ to launch in SpaceX rocket next year

Image credit: Dreamstime

The world’s first memorial spacecraft, which will carry the ashes of up to 300 deceased people for two years in low-Earth orbit, is due to launch from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next year.

The company behind the scheme, Elysium Space, specialise in space-themed funeral services. The San Francisco-based company describe themselves as aiming to change the vision of death “from the Underground to the Celestial”.

In 2015, Elysium attempted to send a CubeSat – a tiny, affordable satellite – into orbit aboard a carrier rocket, SPARK, but the launch ended in failure.

The company have now announced that it will launch its first memorial spacecraft on an upcoming shared Falcon 9 launch by SpaceX.

The mission, SSO-A, is a “dedicated rideshare”, which will include payloads from multiple clients, including Elysium. Rideshare missions – in which multiple clients share a launch – render space missions far more accessible, particularly for companies like Elysium which offer niche services.

The rocket is due to leave SpaceX’s launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California next year. The Elysium Star II would be the first memorial spacecraft sent into orbit.

“This historical launch provides the perfect conditions to make this memorial spaceflight an exceptionally meaningful experience for all participants,” said Thomas Civeit, founder and CEO of Elysium Space.

The spacecraft will carry ashes from the previous, failed launch attempt as well as the remains of additional customers. There is room for 300 containers of ashes, with 100 places already booked for military veterans, space enthusiasts and others.

The service, which costs $2,490 per person, includes an app to track the position of the satellite in orbit.

The memorial spacecraft will be deployed in a Sun-synchronous, low-Earth orbit, meaning that during its time in space, it will pass over every location in the world. It is due to orbit for two years before “re-entering the atmosphere as a shooting star”.

For those who love their relatives too much to allow their ashes to burn up upon re-entry to the atmosphere, Elysium also offer a “Lunar memorial”. For $9,490, the company may partner with the Astrobotic lunar mission to fly human remains to the surface of the Moon.

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