Add the word space to the front of any other word and it immediately becomes infinitely cooler. Space cowboy, space archaeologist, and now space funeral.
A British company has launched a brand new service that sends the remains of your loved ones into space. Their ashes will be released into the cosmos, making the whole world their final resting place, and for only £800 (around $1,050).
Ascension Flights, set up by two graduates from the University of Sheffield, UK, have spent the last few years successfully sending hundreds of items into space. Now, after successfully releasing non-human ash into space thanks to their specifically designed Ascension 1 craft, they are set to launch the service to the public in November.
“We’re at the edge of the next space age, with private industry in the US on the verge of making personal space flight a reality,” co-founder Dr Chris Rose explained. “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. Our new service enables families the opportunity to fulfill their loved ones’ dreams. We feel it’s the ultimate send-off for a life well lived.”
The package costs between £795 ($1,036) and £1895 ($2,470), which includes videos and photos of the ashes being launched into the cosmos.
So what actually happens?
The Ascension 1 craft – a payload box fitted with a camera, tracking device, and release mechanism attached to a balloon filled with gas hydrogen – launches from a site in Yorkshire. Once the craft reaches the edge of space, around 25 kilometers (15 miles) or higher, the computer tracking its flight path releases the mechanism, allowing the ashes to gently float away into space.
The balloon then bursts and the attached parachute brings the emptied canister back down to Earth, which inspired by Elon Musk’s pioneering rockets will be reusable.
“When the ashes are released, the winds of the stratosphere spread the particles out across the planet, ending up all over the place,” Ascension Flights told IFLScience. Mostly they are dispersed, with evidence showing they can escape Earth’s gravitational pull and even head for the stars.
Any residual moisture in the canister freezes instantly, revealing a plume of glitter. Some of the ashes fall through the atmosphere to Earth, with any precipitation on them turning into raindrops and snowflakes.
Frankly, as funeral rites go, the whole thing sounds rather beautiful.
“Fundamentally, we are all stardust," Rose said. "So this feels like a fitting tribute to those of us who have lived through the prologue to the space age.”