07Oct2017

Space Burials Not Just For The Rich And Famous

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Sometimes when a loved one passes and their remains are cremated, the family will honour their beloved’s wishes by scattering their ashes in their favourite place, like the ocean or a park. That’s simply how it goes.

Until now, those wishes had to have been limited to here on Earth. But thanks to a British company called Ascension, those who have always wanted to fulfil the dream of visiting space (even if it is only after death) can now get their ashes scattered into the stratosphere.

“Many of the first generation of space fans intoxicated by space flight will never experience the thrill of looking back at the Earth and fulfilling their dream of space flight,” co-found Dr. Chris Rose told The Telegraph. “Our new service enables families the opportunity to fulfil their loved ones’ dreams. We feel it’s the ultimate send-off for a life well lived.”

Cremated remains are launched in a balloon craft called The Ascension 1 out of Sheffield base located in South Yorkshire, England (however, launches can take place elsewhere for a pricier fee). Once the craft climbs 22 miles, the remains are then released into the high-altitude winds of the stratosphere, their website explains.

When ashes are released and make their way back down to Earth, precipitation will form around them, creating raindrops and snowflakes, the website explains. “Small amounts of nutritious chemicals will stimulate plant growth wherever it lands,” the website says.

“”In this way, your loved one’s earthly remains will become a part of the cycles which create and sustain life on our planet.” It’s a two-and-a-half hour process and it can cost anywhere from £795 (or about C$1,300 and up). The remains of pets may also be sent up and scattered.

NASA conducts spacewalk to repair the Canadaarm

People can also receive a video memorial showing the flight and release of the remains. “Fundamentally, we are all stardust, so this feels like a fitting tribute to those of us who have lived through the prologue to the space age,” Rose said. “Grief is a powerful and unpredictable emotion and the remains of a departed loved one are precious to those they leave behind.

We wanted to be certain that we could provide a consistent, reliable and streamlined service before we offered public flights.” The first flight, according to The Telegraph, is scheduled for November. According to the company’s website, Ascension is a company made up of funeral directors and leading high-altitude imagery specialists. The team has been around since 2012 and was featured on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. Source:  National | Globalnews.ca

Footnote: It might come as a surprise that space burial is already a thing, but a company called Celestis (“Making Your Loved One Part of Space History”) has been providing the service since 1997, when pinches of 1960s icon Timothy Leary, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and several others went into orbit. Elysium Space is a pioneer, it turns out, only in terms of cost.

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