For almost two decades, it’s been possible to send your remains into outer space, where they circle the planet in low-Earth orbit. In some cases, they eventually return to the atmosphere, returning to the Earth as a “shooting star.” But this August, two companies are making international headlines to take it one step further and provide the very first lunar memorial services.
Prices for the moon memorials range from $9,950 to $12,500, which is extraordinary, considering that’s roughly the same price as a traditional casket funeral service. In a press release, Elysium Space announced the opening of reservations for the first “Lunar Memorial Service,” which they hope will touch down on the lunar surface in 2016.
The San Francisco space company also told the story of U.S. Army Infantry Soldier Steven Jenks, who will send a portion of his mother’s remains on the first shuttle. When Jenks was deployed to Iraq, his mother would often sign her letters with a special message: “No matter how lonely you feel and how far you are, always look at the Moon and know I am with you. I love you to the Moon and back. Love, Mom.”
“From the first day we started Elysium Space and imagined awe-inspiring memorials, we thought that the Moon could create the quintessential commemoration,” said Thomas Civeit, Elysium Space CEO and former NASA engineer. “Offering this exceptional tribute within the reach of most families is an important part of this new chapter opening for our civilization.”
The company will collect portions of human remains in specially designed cremation urns for ashes, then deliver the capsules to the moon’s surface with the help of Astrobotic Technology, another U.S. space company. They aren’t the only companies trying to offer the lunar service; rival space companies Celestis and Moon Express have similar lunar memorial plans.
While many people have expressed enthusiasm over the possibility of resting in space, others have expressed credulity. Popular Science said that the lunar memorial capsules amounted to “space litter.”
“There are people today with a great deal of discretionary income,” says Ira Woods, CEO, OneWorld Memorials. “Considering that Virgin Galactic sold over 700 tickets for a trip to space at $250,000 a piece, this is a small price to be memorialized on the moon. It’s no secret that the luxury market is doing quite well and for the price of an ordinary funeral having something as unique and exciting as a moon memorial can be appealing to many for quite some time.”