August 12, 2013
Spend Afterlife In Orbit Thanks To Elysium Space
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
According to Greek mythology, Elysium is the realm designated for the heroic and the brave to live once they pass into the afterlife. Now one San Francisco company of the same name wants to bring this same kind of treatment to the general public for under $2,000 a piece.
As many look to make their way into outer space, Elysium Space makes the experience relatively affordable for those who have already passed on. For $1,990 the company will launch your ashes, or the ashes of your deceased loved one, into outer space.
“These are the kind of people who think space is a unique and beautiful place,” said Thomas Civelt, CEO of Elysium Space and former NASA software engineer, in an interview with TechCrunch.
The ashes don’t remain in space forever, of course. As the Elysium satellites only enter into lower orbit, they’ll eventually reenter the Earth’s atmosphere in a fiery blaze before burning up completely just as a shooting star, providing an entirely poetic ending for anyone’s life.
When your loved one decides to send your ashes into space, they’ll pay Elysium the $1,990 for the package, which includes an invitation to watch the launch event, a “professionally produced” video of the launch and a free Android app with which family members can track your satellite as it screams across space.
The company first ships a kit that contains a capsule for the ashes. Your loved ones can either handle this unpleasant work on their own or hire a funeral director to place you into the capsule. Your initials will also be printed on this capsule and family members can have personal messages inscribed on your final vehicle into the heavens. This capsule is then shipped back to Elysium and placed on CubeSat satellites, tiny 4-inch spacecraft which are being viewed as the easiest way to get small payloads into space cheaply and easily. NASA, for instance, is testing CubeSats as a way to deliver secondary payloads into orbit.
Though this method of transport is significantly cheaper than, say, Virgin Galactic’s $200,000, two-hour trip into orbit, it’s not yet cost efficient to launch these satellites into space one at a time. Therefore Elysium is looking to get about 100 ash-containing capsules ready for launch sometime next summer. Elysium warns potential customers, however, launch dates could be postponed due to circumstances which are out of its control.
Whenever this launch event takes place, customers will have the opportunity (though at their own expense) to watch the one hundred tiny payloads lift into space over Cape Canaveral, Florida. The website promises several “wonderful views” around Cocoa Beach, Jetty Park or Playalinda Beach. Once the launch takes place, your loved ones will be able to track your remains as they skirt through space with a free Android app. According to Civelt, an iOS version is forthcoming. Your ashes could remain aloft in orbit for anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the track of the cubesats.
Once it reenters the atmosphere, however, it’ll return as a shooting star, leaving a brief light trail in your path for star-gazers to look upon.
Elysium Space says its concerned with orbital pollution and, because your ashes will eventually return to terrestrial dust, there’s no concern of polluting the heavens.
The company is still working to raise funds to offer more final treks into space, but hope to have their first launch next summer.