So you’ve had your loved one cremated (after he died, I’m supposing), and you’re wondering what to do with the ashes.
You’re thinking about spreading them where the deceased enjoyed his favorite activity, but his favorite activity was bowling, and that just doesn’t seem right.
But then, one day, the two of you are watching a Honeymooners marathon (although one of you has an obstructed view caused by the inside of an urn) and you hear Ralph say “To the moon, Alice,” and even though your dearly departed was named Donald, you get an idea.
Is it possible, you wonder, to send his ashes to the moon?
Well, I’m happy to report that it is indeed. For a mere $12,500, a company called Celestis Memorial Spaceflights will launch your loved one to Luna and deposit him on the moon’s surface, where the ashes will be found by a future moon mission, analyzed, and offered as proof that living organisms remarkably similar to humans once roamed among the craters. If they probe even further and do DNA testing, they might even discover that your grandchildren are part alien.
Keep in mind that Celestis doesn’t plan to begin this particular service until late next year at the earliest, so if you’re interested in such a memorial for yourself, you might want to wait awhile before dying.
However, if your afterlife aspirations aren’t quite so high, you can take off right now for a mere $995. That’s what Celestis charges for its “Earth Rise” service, wherein it launches “a symbolic portion of cremated remains to space, and after experiencing the zero gravity environment, returns the individual flight capsules and modules back to Earth,” after which “the capsule or module is returned to the family or loved one as a keepsake.”
A few questions here:
- What is a “symbolic portion?” A pinch of Paul? A teaspoon of Tommy? An ash of Ashley?
- Who or what exactly is “experiencing the zero gravity environment?” If it’s the remains, were they also able to experience that episode when someone accidently upended the urn over a line of cocaine?
- Why the hell does the family want the capsule returned? They just spent a thousand bucks to get rid of the damn ashes.
Of course, if you really would prefer your loved one’s last trip to be one-way, Celestis has a $4,995 service in which the “spacecraft is placed in Earth orbit where it remains until it reenters the atmosphere, harmlessly vaporizing like a shooting star in final tribute.” This is the ideal solution if you don’t mind spending the rest of your life worrying that those dust motes may be Aunt Shirley.
But maybe space wasn’t your loved one’s thing. Maybe he was afraid of heights. Maybe you’d rather spend the five grand on a trip of your own, because, frankly, Donald never took you anywhere.
For you bargain hunters out there, the United States Postal Service offers a service similar to Celestis’ for about .2% of the cost. For only $12.65, you can send your loved one’s remains somewhere via Priority Mail flat rate, and just like with the Celestis service, the ashes will never be seen again. At least that’s what happened in November when the remains of an Ohio woman were lost en route to her husband.*
One thing the USPS unintentional ash disposal service doesn’t do is give you a nice souvenir of the event (unless you count the apparently useless tracking slip). With all their services, Celestis gives you a memento:
“After a successful launch, Celestis provides a professionally produced videotape or DVD of the entire event to the participant’s family or designee.”
The website does not say what they provide after an unsuccessful launch, but I’m guessing it’s not a side order of twice-baked potatoes.
As an extra bonus, your loved one’s ashes may meet some celebrities while floating around in the cosmos. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberrry’s remains were among the first to be launched, so they boldly went where no ashes had gone before. In fact, much like Star Trek itself, there was a sequel to his space burial, when more of his ashes were sent into orbit, which means there are quite a few of Gene’s genes out there.
Almost two years ago, I wrote about the disturbing trend of home funerals, which are clearly insane. But I’m not sure what I think about these. I guess they’re okay for those who like this sort of thing, as long as all these space hearses don’t crash into actual manned flights and cause Sandra Bullock to go floating around in her underwear.
And, look, if the deceased wasn’t sure which way he or she was headed after death, it couldn’t hurt to have a nudge in the right direction.
See you soon.
*Update: The USPS finally found that woman’s ashes, which is a good thing, because if they had mistakenly shown up at some random person’s house, it may have started a new anthrax scare.