Ballpark Estimate: $1,000 to $5,300 for sub-orbital space; $10,000 to $45,000 to launch to the moon
If you’ve always wanted to explore the universe but can’t afford the high price of a round-trip ticket into outer space, a few private companies are working together to offer the next best thing: the chance for your cremated remains to take a one-way journey into suborbital space after you pass away.
Funerals in Space
The first memorial service in space was in held in 1997, when a private company “sold” space to carry the ashes of 24 people (included Gene Roddenberry, the creator or Star Trek) into sub-orbit. The remains were carried in capsules on a special rocket ship. Since then, the idea has continued to grow and capture people’s interest, offering them access to a unique and meaningful resting place.
If the idea of being launched into space when you die appeals to you, you may want to know more about actual process. First off, your body needs to be cremated. You also have to keep in mind that the total weight of a person’s ashes can be as much as five pounds, but not all of this weight will actually be able to be transported into space. According to one expert, the capsules typically used for this venture can hold anywhere from one to seven grams of these remains. To put this into perspective, one gram is about one percent of the total weight of the ashes. Further, the capsule is comparable in size to a standard AAA battery.
The Moon as Your Final Resting Place
While suborbital flights are one option for your remains, if you have your sights set even higher, you may soon be able to even have your ashes go all of the way to the moon – that is, if you can afford the price. Several companies are in the process of making this a real possibility. The ashes will be contained in a capsule that will be attached to robotic lunar equipment. The equipment is slated to land on the moon, where it will be used for scientific exploration. When the experiments are done, the capsules will be left behind on the moon, creating a peaceful and final, resting place.
The first such moon mission is expected to take place sometime in the next few years, and about 1,000 capsules carrying ashes will be included on this initial journey. And while this will be the first such commercial venture, it comes in the wake of another similar trial lunar mission back in 1999, which carried the remains of scientific historian Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, who was instrumental in furthering the field of planetary science. In fitting tribute for his numerous contributions, one gram of the prestigious scientist’s remains were carried on this highly-publicized lunar flight. When the mission was complete, the craft was deliberately crashed into the lunar surface, where it, and the ashes of Shoemaker, today remains.
What It Costs
You don’t have to be famous, though, to be able to arrange your own sub-orbital or lunar memorial service for yourself or for a loved one. You just need to have a little money to spend. What it will cost depends on your preferences. A Houston-based company called Memorial Spaceflights, which is a collaboration among Celestis, Odyssey Moon Limited, and Astrobotic Technology, Inc., helps make such journeys possible in death.
If a suborbital launch for your remains is what you want, an investment of between$1,000 and $5,300 can make it a reality. (Keep in mind this is in the same range as the cost of a typical burial.)
Or, if the moon is your target destination, you may want to check out some upcoming lunar missions. Memorial Space Flights is currently accepting reservations for a variety of moon-related options coming soon for people to choose from, either for themselves or others.
For instance, if you want to have your ashes launched into the lunar orbit or surface, to carry one gram cost in a capsule costs about $10,000, or to carry seven grams in a larger module costs $20,000.
If you want to co-mingle one gram or your ashes with one gram of a friend or family member, will cost $15,000 or the combination of seven grams of each of you will cost $30,000.
Included in the cost of the launch is a memorial service, scattering of the remaining ashes into the sea somewhere near the launch site and also an inscription of your name (or the name of whoever’s ashes you send) inside the spacecraft on a memorial plaque.
In addition, for an extra fee of $10,000 to $15,000 on top of the general prices, you can arrange for VIP treatment from the company.
So you can expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,300 to carry your ashes into space, or between $10,000 and $45,000 to transport them all of the way to the moon’s surface.
Just keep in mind that the prices for the flight don’t include the cremation itself. You can expect that to cost about $2,000 more on top of whatever package you select.
You can also invest an extra $100 in advance in order to register your wishes for a space flight to the moon upon death, so your loved ones will know your preferences. Or, you can lock in your flight at today’s prices and guarantee your space by opting for a pre-payment plan.
Launching Your DNA
If you want a piece of yourself to experience the weightlessness of leaving the earth’s atmosphere but you don’t want to wait until death, there is another option that costs less and can be accomplished while you are still living.
Several companies offer the choice of sending follicles or hair, clippings of fingernails and other options that contain your DNA into space. These journeys carrying small DNA samples start at under $50.