Space burial

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Space burials launch cremated remains out of the atmosphere.

Space burial refers to the launching of cremated remains into outer space. Missions may go into orbit around the 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: re-enters the Earth's atmosphere and burns up upon re-entry (Earth orbit missions); reaches its final, extraterrestrial destination (e.g. the Moon); or escapes the solar system (deep space missions). To a lesser extent, suborbital flights provide the opportunity to briefly fly ashes into space and return them back to Earth for recovery. Only a sample of remains is launched so as to make the service affordable. Private companies such as Celestis, Inc.[1] and Elysium Space[2][3][4][5] offer space burial services.

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.[6] It was later proposed as a commercial service in the 1965 movie, "The Loved One,"[7] and by Richard DeGroot in a Seattle Times newspaper article on April 3, 1977.[8] Since 1997, the private company Celestis has conducted numerous space burials flying as secondary payloads.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

The first moon burial was that of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, a portion of whose cremated remains were flown to the Moon by NASA.[12] Shoemaker's former colleague Carolyn Porco, a University of Arizona professor, proposed and produced the tribute of having Shoemaker's ashes launched aboard the NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft.[13] Ten days after Shoemaker's passing, Porco had the go-ahead from NASA administrators and delivered the ashes to the Lunar Prospector Mission Director Scott Hubbard at the NASA Ames Research Center.[12][14] The ashes were accompanied by a piece of brass foil inscribed with an image of a Comet Hale-Bopp, an image of Meteor Crater in northern Arizona, and a passage from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.[12] The Lunar Prospector spacecraft was launched on January 6, 1998 and impacted the south polar region of the moon on July 31, 1999.[15]

In 2014, Celestis launched Celestis Pets, a pet memorial spaceflight service for animal cremated remains.[16] Prior to then, a Monroe, Washington police dog may have flown on a 2012 memorial spaceflight. 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.[17]

Orbital Spaceflight History[edit]

Launch Date Mission Provider Launch Vehicle Destination Remains Samples Results
October 22, 1992 NASA Space Shuttle Columbia Earth orbit Remains sample of Gene Roddenbury[10] Success
April 21, 1997 Celestis Pegasus rocket Earth orbit 24 Remains Samples[11] Success
January 6, 1998 NASA Athena II/Lunar Prospector Lunar surface Remains sample of Eugene Shoemaker[12][15] Success
February 10, 1998 Celestis Taurus rocket Earth orbit 30 Remains Samples[18] Success
December 20, 1999 Celestis Taurus rocket Earth orbit 36 Remains Samples[19] Success
September 21, 2001 Celestis Taurus rocket Earth orbit 43 Remains Samples[20] Failure
January 19, 2006 NASA Atlas V/New Horizons Deep space Remains sample of Clyde Tombaugh[21] Success
August 2, 2008 Celestis Falcon 1 Earth orbit Over 200 Remains Samples[22] Failure
May 22, 2012 Celestis Falcon 9 Earth orbit Over 300 Remains Samples[23][24] Success
December 5, 2014 NASA Delta IV Heavy Earth orbit Remains sample of NASA Orion engineer[25] Success

Suborbital Spaceflight History[edit]

Launch Date Mission Provider Launch Vehicle Remains Samples Results
September 29, 2004 Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne Remains sample of the mother of SpaceShipOne's designer, Burt Rutan.[26] Success
April 28, 2007 Celestis SpaceLoft XL Over 200 Remains Samples[27] Success
May 2, 2009 Celestis SpaceLoft XL 16 Remains Samples[28] Failure
May 4, 2010 Celestis SpaceLoft XL Over 19 Remains Samples[29] Success
May 20, 2011 Celestis SpaceLoft XL Over 8 Remains Samples[30] Success
June 21, 2013 Celestis SpaceLoft XL 31 Remains Samples[31] Success
October 23, 2014 Celestis SpaceLoft XL 24 Remains Samples[32] Success

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.[19][39]

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]

  • Majel Barrett (1932–2008), American actress who played Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek series; wife of Gene Roddenberry. A symbolic portion of both her cremated remains and Gene's cremated remains will be launched into space on a future Celestis mission.[44][45]
  • James Doohan (March 3, 1920 – July 20, 2005), actor best known for his portrayal of Scotty in the television and film series Star Trek. A symbolic portion of his cremated remains will fly with Celestis yet again.[44][46]
  • William Reid Pogue (1930–2014), American astronaut. A symbolic portion of his cremated remains will be launched into space on a future Celestis mission.[44][47]
  • Luise Clayborn Kaish (1925–2013), American sculptor and painter. A symbolic portion of her cremated remains will be launched into space on a future Celestis mission.[44][48]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Celestis Website". 
  2. ^ "Elysium Space Website". 
  3. ^ Hamish McKenzie (August 9, 2013). "The real Elysium: Send your dead loved one into space for $2K". Pando Daily. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  4. ^ Kim-Mai Cutler (August 9, 2013). "Have A Space Burial As Elysium Sends Your Ashes into Orbit". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  5. ^ Josh Ong (August 9, 2013). "Elysium Space will launch your loved ones' ashes into orbit for $2,000". TheNextWeb. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  6. ^ "The Jameson Satellite" (Amazing Stories, July 1931; Amazing Stories, April 1956 (reprint); Ace Books collection #1, 1967.
  7. ^ goodgoodbye.com/film-and-video-reviews/funeral-films-the-loved-one/
  8. ^ John Hinterberger: The Seattle Times Sunday Magazine, page 3, April 3, 1977.
  9. ^ "Celetis Launch Manifest". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Shuttle bore Roddenberry's ashes". Rome News-Tribune. April 29, 1994. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b c d Stiles, Lorie. "Eugene Shoemaker Ashes Carried on Lunar Prospector". UA News Services, University of Arizona. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  13. ^ Porco, Carolyn. "The Eugene M. Shoemaker Tribute". Diamond Sky Productions. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  14. ^ Porco, Carolyn C. (February 2000). "Destination Moon". Astronomy. Retrieved June 8, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Williams, David. "Lunar Prospector". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Retrieved August 6, 2015. 
  16. ^ http://www.celestispets.com/
  17. ^ Rikki King (May 24, 2012). "Dog's ashes may have been sneaked on to space flight". Everett Herald. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  18. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Ad Astra Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Millennial Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Odyssey Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "NASA Launches Spacecraft on the First Mission to Pluto – New York Times". NewYorkTimes. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  22. ^ a b "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Explorers Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  23. ^ Moskowitz, Clara (May 22, 2012). "Ashes of Star Trek's 'Scotty' Ride Private Rocket into Space". New York: Space.com. Archived from the original on May 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  24. ^ a b "The New Frontier Memorial Spaceflight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Man's remains travel to space with NASA's Orion". wtop.com. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  26. ^ "SpaceShipOne takes wild suborbital flight". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – Legacy Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Discovery Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Pioneer Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Goddard Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Centennial Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights – The Conestoga Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Gene Roddenberry – Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Gerald K. O'Neil – Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Krafft A. Ehricke – Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Timothy Francis Leary – Participant on board The Founders Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Luna Flight 01 – Celestis Memorial Spaceflights". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Launch of Eugene Shoemaker on First Celestis Luna Mission". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Charles Oren Bennett – Participant on board The Millennial Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  40. ^ "James M. Doohan – Celestis New Frontier Flight Participant". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  41. ^ "James M. Doohan – Participant on board The Legacy Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  42. ^ a b Celestis – The Legacy flight
  43. ^ "James M. Doohan – Participant on board The Explorers Flight". CelestisInc. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  44. ^ a b c d "Celestis Memorial Spaceflights -- Participants in Future Flights". CelestisInc. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  45. ^ "Gene & Majel Roddenberry - Participants on board a Future Celestis Memorial Spaceflight". CelestisInc. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  46. ^ "James M. Doohan - Participant on board a Future Celestis Memorial Spaceflight". CelestisInc. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  47. ^ "William Reid Pogue - Participant on board a Future Celestis Memorial Spaceflight". CelestisInc. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 
  48. ^ "Luise Clayborn Kaish - Participant on board a Future Celestis Memorial Spaceflight". CelestisInc. Retrieved May 19, 2015. 

External links[edit]