On this edition of The Supercluster Podcast, Vice Motherboard reporter Samantha Cole joins our Director of Content Robin Seemangal to discuss a new emerging industry: sending human remains to be memorialized in space. This podcast expands on Samantha’s recent feature for Supercluster, “When We Blast Our Dead Loved Ones To Space,” which explores the companies facilitating these unusual space missions and the folks who sign up to fly on them.
Read an excerpt from the full article below.
The sun rose and honeyed the sands of the Jornada del Muerto. Spanish for "Journey of the Dead Man,” this basin where Spaceport America sits in the New Mexico desert looks more like Mars at this hour than our own home planet. On September 17, 2018, the temperature at Spaceport would reach a toasty 94 degrees, an especially hot start to autumn even for New Mexico.
Just before dawn, clusters of families and friends arrived on two coach buses. They’d been roused from their hotel rooms and taken on a ride through the pitch dark desert to arrive in time for launch, set to occur shortly after sunrise.
About 100 people gathered at the complex, situated smack in the middle of nowhere—many of them parentless children, or childless parents, elder widowers and middle-aged grandkids—to watch a little piece of their loved ones blast into the blue sky.
They’re a group among a wider trend of space-based memorial services, where companies offer to send cremains—usually a “symbolic” few ash grams in a capsule—of a loved one to the edge of space, the moon, or endless earth orbit.
Note: One of the companies that facilitate space memorials, Celestis, has revealed that it will be launching the remains of 152 participants on the next SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch. You can follow that mission, launching from Kennedy Space Center next month, via Supercluster’s launch tracker available here.