Crossing The Final Frontier, What Are Space Burials?
There are many types of burials we have in the world today, but none may be as extraordinary as space burial. This is a kind of burial ritual where the ashes of a departed person are launched into space. They are commonly sent into orbit around the earth for a brief period and then returned to the planet. Contrary to popular opinion, the ashes are not dispersed or scattered in space.
This practice is avoided because it would result in an increase in space debris — a term given to the space waste and detritus put out into space by manned space flights or rockets. Data shows us that there are over 200,000 particles of space debris measuring between 1 and 10 centimeters and over a million smaller particles measuring less than 1 centimeter. These small particles could damage the rockets and satellites in space.
So, the long and short of it is that ashes are not scattered in space in a space burial, which is also known as a memorial spaceflight.
How Do Space Burials Work?
Currently, only private companies offer the option to conduct this type of burial. To have this burial type organized for a loved one, here is what you will need to do.
- Get in touch with a company that conducts space burials - The first thing you need to do is find a company that conducts this type of burial. This way, you can rest assured that all the necessary formalities, like the paperwork, the permissions and any other essential procedures, are smoothly handled. You need to understand that the ashes of your loved one will have to be included as a part of a space mission by commercial spacecraft companies such as Lockheed Martin or SpaceX. So, you may have to wait for a mission to come up to have the space burial orchestrated on your behalf.
- Place the ashes in the tube given by the company -In the meantime, you will be given a special miniature tube that is approximately as small as the average lipstick holder. You need to place the ashes of your loved one in this tube and send it to the company. Sometimes, you may even have the option of customizing the capsule with a few personal details like your loved one’s name, date of birth and death, and a short message. This will all be for an additional cost, of course.
- Be present for the launch - Once you have completed the necessary formalities and a space mission has come up, you may be invited by the company to better understand how the liftoff and flight will work. Some companies may even conduct joint memorial services for all the people who have ashes of their loved ones on the spaceflight. If, for some reason, you are not able to be present for the launch in person, you can choose to watch a live telecast of the same from your location.
- Keep track of the ashes - Space missions can last for several weeks or months on end too. So, if the ashes of a loved one are on a spaceflight that is longer than a few days, it can be comforting to have a way to track the ashes. Companies that organize space burials may let you do this via a transmitter that gives you the details of the exact location of the cremated remains. This will help you feel connected even when you are worlds away.
- Recover the ashes after the spaceflight - Once the spaceflight is complete, the ashes will be returned to you to keep as a memory and carry out any other funeral traditions or burial rituals you may have planned. You may also receive a customized video and a certificate of the successful mission as a keepsake.
What Do Space Burials Cost?
Like most things related to funerals, you can find space burials priced across different budgets. Typically, the cost can range from around $2,500 to $12,500. The cost varies depending on the nature of the burial experience offered. For instance, merely launching the ashes into space and then having them returned to the earth may be on the more affordable end of the price spectrum. Launching the ashes into the earth’s orbit may be costlier, as will launching the ashes into the lunar orbit. The upper end of the experience involves launching the ashes into deep space.
What Happens After Planning A Space Burial For A Loved One?
A space burial is more of an experience and less of a permanent place to put the departed to rest. After the ashes are returned, you can conduct a traditional funeral ceremony and bury the ashes or have them scattered as per your loved one’s wishes. For this, you will find that the urns available on Titan Casket’s website are ideal to hold the ashes of the person who has passed on.