Among the 64 satellites put into orbit Monday by a SpaceX rocket, one holds cargo that will advance missions more personal than scientific: launching the cremated remains (aka cremains) of about 100 people into orbit, CNN reports.
The mission was orchestrated by Elysium Space, a San Francisco company that offers a “Shooting Star Memorial,” which sends a “symbolic portion” of the cremated remains of loved ones into Earth’s orbit for $2,490, according to the company’s website. The company also offers a $9,950 “lunar memorial” service for those who want to send cremains to the moon.
One family told CNN they waited two years to send the remains of their son into space.
For the memorial mission, ashes were packed into small capsules, each individually engraved with initials. The capsules were loaded into a 4-inch square CubeSat satellite. The satellite was sent into space as part of Seattle-based Spaceflight’s first dedicated ridesharing-into-orbit mission. The satellites will remain in orbit for four years before they fall back to earth, Elysium Space CEO Thomas Civeit told CNN. During that time, family members can even track the spacecraft in real time using an app, CNN reported.
Monday’s mission was record-breaking in terms of the number of U.S. satellites put into orbit at once, CNBC reports, but it isn’t the first time ashes have been launched into space.
Along with a 1998 NASA mission that sent a vial of an astronomer’s ashes to the moon, CNN reports, Elysium Space had a similar mission in 2012.
Prior to Monday, SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket twice this year and made history as the first company to accomplish the feat three times, according to CNBC.