Space funerals are a growing industry in America. For a price, you can have a few grams of your ashes launched into space. Famous names who have done so are Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek crew member James Doohan, and psychedelic pioneer Timothy Leary. Hundreds of Americans have made arrangements for space burials this year.
Charles Chafer, co-founder and CEO of Houston-based Celestis, says business is good, thanks to two factors. “The increased availability of commercial space flight” is one, he says, “coupled with the increased desire for Baby Boomers and others to choose cremation and different kinds of memorial services.” The market has met the means.
Chafer says his company’s space burials don’t add to the problem of “space junk.” “We’re all space geeks here, and we were committed not to add anything net to the orbital environment as a result of our service,” he says. “So we’ve always designed and engineered our services to stay attached to something that’s going there anyway, be it a rocket stage or a satellite, or something like that.”
Chafer says Celestis has been in business for 20 years. “We’ve put more than 1200 individuals into space in the flight capsules,” he says, “which is more than double all of the world’s governments combined of putting astronauts into space.” The company offers suborbital and orbital services, has done one moon burial so far, and has scheduled its first “deep space” (translunar) burial.
Celestis’s next launch is scheduled for November 15 from Spaceport America in New Mexico.