Product Review & Celestis: Memorial Space Flights

M. Kotch

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, humans could only dream about orbiting space, let alone being buried there. Well times have changed: space-age technology is a part of our everyday lives and—relatively—affordable space burials are now possible.

Located in Melbourne, Florida, Celestis has been launching space memorials into orbit since the 1990s. The company’s famous inaugural flight included Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and 60s legend Timothy Leary among 24 others. Celestis’ memorial spaceflights carry symbolic amounts of cremated remains into outer space.

How it works: The process begins by taking a small portion of a loved one’s cremated remains (from 1 gram to 7 grams) and placing it into a small, sealed capsule which will later be loaded into the spacecraft and launched into space. According to the company, only a portion of the remains is launched because the service would be too expensive otherwise. Celestis can scatter the rest of the cremated remains in the sea as an additional service.

Taking Flight: By working with commercial providers of space launch services, Celestis launches many capsules or modules at a time. The company does not offer individual launches or flights.

Where and How Much: Celestis offers the following space memorial services:
1. Earth Rise: The Earth Rise service launches a loved one’s capsule briefly into a zero-gravity environment before returning to Earth. The returned capsule is then given to family as a keepsake. This service ranges from $695 to around $2000.
2. Earth Orbit: This service carries capsules aboard genuine space missions and launches them into the Earth’s orbit. Eventually the capsules re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and harmlessly vaporize. The cost for the Earth Orbit service starts at $2495 and goes up to $7485.
3. Luna: Celestis announced a lunar option that will carry a sample of a loved one’s remains to the surface of the moon beginning in 2011. The Luna Service is more expensive, with prices ranging between $10,000 and $30,000.
4. Voyager: The company offers this service that may begin as early as 2012. The Voyager Service carries capsules and modules into deep space where they are launched beyond the Earth-Moon system. This service begins at $12,500 and goes up to $37,500.

Capsules and Modules: Celestis offers individuals and couples the option of space memorials. Capsules carry portions of a loved one’s remains while modules carry samples of two individuals’ cremated remains.

Family and Friends: Celestis provides a memorial service option prior to a spaceflight and hosts friends and family for the actual launch in a viewing facility. A DVD of the launch is provided to attending family or to those who missed the launch.

Preplanning: The Florida-based company offers an advanced planning option that allows individuals to select a package, lock in the price of a spaceflight memorial, and attend a Celestis memorial launch.

While Celestis does not guarantee the success of specific flights, it will re-launch another sample in a capsule (or module) at no additional cost to ensure that a loved one’s remains reach outer space.

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