March 28, 2008

Company Provides Lunar Burials

A Houston-based aerospace company announced on Thursday that it hopes to begin a commercial service of sending human ashes to the moon.

Celestis, Inc. has previously sent cremated remains into space on rockets since their 1997 Founders Flight, which sent 24 capsules into Earth orbit aboard a Pegasus rocket. Celestis said it hopes to reach the moon through its Luna 02 and Luna 03 missions as soon as 2009.

Service options include capsules ranging from 1 to 14 grams, costing between $10,000 and $30,000.

Celestis chose Odyssey Moon Limited and Astrobotic Technology, Inc. to provide the transportation. Each company had recently announced plans to conduct privately funded lunar missions, it said.

Both Odyssey Moon and Astrobotic are currently seeking to land a robotic craft on the moon to conduct scientific experiments. The capsules of cremated remains would stay on the moon's surface along with the robotic landers when the missions were complete.

"Astrobotic Technology, Inc. acknowledges the trust placed in us by Celestis and their families, and we look forward to hosting them at our launch and lunar landing events," notes Dr. Red Whittaker, CEO of Astrobotic Technology.

Celestis president Charles Chafer said he hoped to send 1,000 capsules containing ashes on the first lunar mission, expected in late 2009 or early 2010, and about 5,000 on future flights.

"The moon is a special place," Chafer said.

"For many people, it would be a romantic notion to look up into the sky and see the moon and know that your mom or dad or loved one is up there memorialized."

Chafer said that about half a dozen people have already signed up for the service.


On the Net:

Celestis, Inc.

Oddissey Moon, Ltd

Astrobotic Technology, Inc.