Space burial

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Space burials launch cremated remains into the Final Frontier.

Space burial refers to the launching of cremated remains into outer space. Missions may go into orbit around the Earth, on suborbital missions that briefly fly into space and return the ashes to Earth, to other planetary bodies (such as the Moon), or into deep space. The cremated remains are not actually scattered in space, and thus do not contribute to space debris. Instead, the ashes remain sealed inside their spacecraft until the spacecraft either: (A) re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and burns up upon re-entry (Earth orbit missions); (B) parachutes back to Earth for recovery (suborbital missions); or (C) reaches its final, extraterrestrial destination (e.g., the Moon). Only a sample is launched so as to make the service affordable.[1] Celestis, Inc.[2] and Elysium Space[3][4][5][6] offer space burial. As of March 2014, Celestis was offering the most affordable service worldwide with prices starting at $995.00 USD.[7]

History[edit]

The concept of launching remains into space using conventional rockets was proposed by the science fiction author Neil R. Jones in the novella "The Jameson Satellite," which was published in the pulp magazine "Amazing Stories" in 1931.[8] It was later proposed as a commercial service in the 1965 movie, "The Loved One,"[9] and by Richard DeGroot in a Seattle Times newspaper article on April 3, 1977.[10] Since 1997, the private company Celestis has conducted numerous space burials flying as secondary payloads.[1]

Gene Roddenberry (third from the right) in 1976 with most of the cast of Star Trek at the rollout of the Space Shuttle Enterprise at the Rockwell International plant at Palmdale, California, USA

The first space burial occurred in 1992 when the NASA space shuttle Columbia (mission STS-52) carried a portion of Gene Roddenberry's cremated remains into space and returned them to Earth.[11]

The first private space burial, Celestis' Earthview 01: The Founders Flight, was launched on April 21, 1997. An aircraft, departing from the Canary Islands, carried a Pegasus rocket containing samples of the remains of 24 people to an altitude of 11 km (38,000 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket then carried the remains into an elliptical orbit with an apogee of 578 km (359 mi) and a perigee of 551 km (342 mi), orbiting the Earth once every 96 minutes until reentry on May 20, 2002, northeast of Australia. Famous people on this flight included Gene Roddenberry and Timothy Leary.[12]

The next space burial was that of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, a portion of whose cremated remains were flown to the Moon.[13] At the suggestion of colleague Carolyn Porco, Shoemaker's ashes were launched aboard the Lunar Prospector spacecraft on January 6, 1998 by a three-stage Athena rocket.[14] Celestis provided assistance for this mission.[15] The ashes were accompanied by a laser-engraved epitaph on a small piece of foil.[13] The spacecraft impacted the south polar region of the moon on July 31, 1999.[15]

Although Celestis does not currently offer space burial for animal remains, a Monroe, Washington police dog may have been on a 2012 memorial spaceflight, a contractual violation. When this news broke, Celestis' President said that if dog ashes were on the rocket, the person who supplied the cremated remains likely violated the contract they signed with Celestis.[16]

List of space burials[edit]

  • October 22, 1992 to November 1, 1992 (NASA mission): A portion of Gene Roddenberry's cremated remains flew on NASA's space shuttle Columbia and were returned to Earth.[17]
  • April 21, 1997 (Celestis mission): 24 remains samples launched into Earth orbit on an air-launched Pegasus rocket.[12]
  • January 6, 1998 (NASA/Celestis mission): Sample of the remains of Eugene Shoemaker launched as secondary payload on a three-stage Athena rocket to the moon[15]
  • February 10, 1998 (Celestis mission): 30 remains samples as a secondary payload launched into Earth orbit on a Taurus rocket This mission is still on orbit, has an estimated orbital lifetime of 240 years, and can be tracked online.[18]
  • December 20, 1999 (Celestis mission): 36 remains samples as a secondary payload launched into Earth orbit on a Taurus rocket. This mission is still on orbit, has an estimated orbital lifetime of 240 years, and can be tracked online.[19]
  • September 21, 2001 (Celestis mission): 43 remains samples as a secondary payload failed to be launched into Earth orbit on a Taurus rocket. [20]
  • January 19, 2006 (NASA mission): Sample of the remains of Clyde Tombaugh on the New Horizons spacecraft launched by an Atlas V rocket to Pluto[21]
  • April 28, 2007 (Celestis mission): This was the first suborbital memorial spaceflight -- a flight that carried cremated remains into space and returned them to Earth, without orbiting Earth. Launch occurred from Spaceport America on an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket. The cremated remains samples of over 200 people were on board, including Mercury 7 astronaut L. Gordon Cooper and Star Trek actor James Doohan ("Scotty").[22]
  • August 2, 2008 (Celestis mission): Over 200 remains samples flown as a secondary payload on a Falcon 1 rocket. While the rocket flew into space, it did not achieve its goal of orbiting Earth.[23]
  • May 2, 2009 (Celestis mission): 16 remains samples successfully launched on a suborbital flight by UP Aerospace as a secondary payload from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Among those aboard was Ralph White, famous undersea explorer/cinematographer and, in 1985, co-discoverer of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic.[24]
  • May 4, 2010 (Celestis mission): Over 19 remains samples successfully launched by UP Aerospace as a secondary payload from Spaceport America, New Mexico.[25]
  • May 20, 2011 (Celestis mission): Over 8 remains samples successfully launched by UP Aerospace as a secondary payload from Spaceport America, New Mexico.[26]
  • May 22, 2012 (Celestis mission): Over 300 remains samples successfully launched as a secondary payload along with SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket.[27] The Celestis spacecraft re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on June 26, 2012. [28]
  • June 21, 2013 (Celestis mission): 31 remains samples successfully launched by UP Aerospace as a secondary payload from Spaceport America, New Mexico.[29]

Notable individuals buried in space[edit]

James Doohan (left) visiting NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center with pilot Bruce Peterson April 13, 1967 in front of the Northrop M2-F2.

Launched into Earth orbit by Celestis on April 21, 1997[edit]

Buried on the Moon on July 31, 1999[edit]

Launched into Earth orbit by Celestis on December 20, 1999[edit]

  • Charles Oren Bennett (January 21, 1928 – 1999), space illustrator.[35][19]

Launched into outer space on a trajectory out of the solar system on January 19, 2006[edit]

  • Clyde Tombaugh (February 4, 1906 – January 17, 1997), American astronomer and discoverer of Pluto in 1930. A small sample of Tombaugh's ashes are aboard New Horizons, the first spacecraft to attempt to pass by and photograph Pluto. This is the first sample of human cremated remains which will escape the solar system to travel among the stars.[21]

Launched into Earth orbit by Celestis on May 22, 2012[edit]

L. Gordon Cooper

Future space burials[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions About Memorial Spaceflights". CelestisInc. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Celestis Website". 
  3. ^ "Elysium Space Website". 
  4. ^ Hamish McKenzie (2013-08-09). "The real Elysium: Send your dead loved one into space for $2K". Pando Daily. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  5. ^ Kim-Mai Cutler (2013-08-09). "Have A Space Burial As Elysium Sends Your Ashes Into Orbit". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  6. ^ Josh Ong (2013-08-09). "Elysium Space will launch your loved ones’ ashes into orbit for $2,000". TheNextWeb. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  7. ^ "Unique Space Burial Services from Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - Funerals in Space - Post Cremation Options". CelestisInc. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Jameson Satellite" (Amazing Stories, July 1931; Amazing Stories, April 1956 (reprint); Ace Books collection #1, 1967.
  9. ^ goodgoodbye.com/film-and-video-reviews/funeral-films-the-loved-one/
  10. ^ John Hinterberger: The Seattle Times Sunday Magazine, page 3, April 3, 1977.
  11. ^ "Shuttle bore Roddenberry's ashes". Rome News-Tribune. April 29, 1994. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Porco, Carolyn. "The Eugene M. Shoemaker Tribute". Diamond Sky Productions. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Porco, Carolyn C. (February 2000). "Destination Moon". Astronomy. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Luna Flight 01 - Celestis Memorial Spaceflights". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Rikki King (2012-05-24). "Dog's ashes may have been sneaked on to space flight". Everett Herald. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  17. ^ "Shuttle bore Roddenberry's ashes". Rome News-Tribune. April 29, 1994. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Ad Astra Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Millennial Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Odyssey Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "NASA Launches Spacecraft on the First Mission to Pluto - New York Times". NewYorkTimes. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - Legacy Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  23. ^ a b "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Explorers Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  24. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights -- The Discovery Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  25. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Pioneer Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  26. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Goddard Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  27. ^ Moskowitz, Clara (2012-05-22). "Ashes of Star Trek's 'Scotty' Ride Private Rocket Into Space". New York: Space.com. Archived from the original on 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  28. ^ a b "The New Frontier Memorial Spaceflight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights - The Centennial Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  30. ^ "Gene Roddenberry - Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  31. ^ "Gerald K. O'Neil - Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  32. ^ "Krafft A. Ehricke - Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Timothy Francis Leary - Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "Launch of Eugene Shoemaker on First Celestis Luna Mission". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Charles Oren Bennett - Participant on board The Millennial Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "James M. Doohan - Celestis New Frontier Flight Participant". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  37. ^ "James M. Doohan - Participant on board The Legacy Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  38. ^ a b Celestis - The Legacy flight
  39. ^ "James M. Doohan - Participant on board The Explorers Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  40. ^ a b c "Celestis Voyager Flight Participants". CelestisInc. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  41. ^ "Gene & Majel Roddenberry - Celestis Sunjammer Flight Participants". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  42. ^ a b c "The Sunjammer Solar Sail - Celestis, Inc.". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  43. ^ "James M. Doohan - Celestis Sunjammer Flight Participant". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  44. ^ "Luise Clayborn Kaish - Celestis Sunjammer Flight Participant". CelestisInc. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 

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