On April 21st, 1997 Celestis launched the first ever space funeral. That’s right. A space funeral.
The cremated remains of 24 individuals were loaded onto a Pegasus rocket. The aircraft was launched into space over the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands.
Portions of the cremated remains were released into space in lipstick-sized capsules over the course of the rocket’s journey. Once released they floated around space, orbiting the Earth for a period of anywhere from 18 months to 10 years before gravity pulled them back into the atmosphere. During reentry of the atmosphere, the capsules would have vaporized like a shooting star. What better way to go out?
The remains of several famous individuals were a part of this first space funeral—most of them futurists, space enthusiasts, or just plain awesome (or weird, depending on your perspective). Here’s a short list:
Gene Roddenberry, creator of the original Star Trek television series, and thus the entire Star Trek franchise.
Timothy Leary, American psychologist, space-enthusiast, and futurist. President Nixon once described Leary as, “the most dangerous man in America.”
Gerard O’Neill, American physicist and space activist. His award-winning book, “The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space,” inspired an entire generation of space exploration advocates.
Krafft Arnold Ehricke, German rocket-propulsion engineer and advocate for space colonization. Ehricke undertook a major study of the industrial development of the Moon, which he described as Earth’s seventh continent. He even had a name for his proposed city on the Moon, Selenopolis.
There are several companies still offering space burial services today, including Celestis. For a whopping $4,995 you could have your remains launched into Earth’s orbit. For $12,500 they will launch your remains to the moon or into deep space. That’s quite a ticket price, but let’s remember it would be the ultimate trip!