Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him a Josh Ong is the US Editor at The Next Web. He previously worked as TNW's China Editor and LA Reporter. Follow him on Twitter or email him at [email protected].
An ex-NASA engineer has launched Elysium Space, a new startup with the goal of sending spacecraft into orbit with the ashes of the deceased. Loved ones back on Planet Earth will then be able to monitor the location of the ashes from an app.
A spot on the first “memorial spaceflight”, which is expected to take off next summer, costs $1,990. Customers receive a kit with a metal capsule for storing the ashes and can attend the launch if so desired. The Elysium Space app is currently available on Google Play and an iPhone version is coming soon.
This isn’t the first such service – Celestis has been offering the service for over a decade. However, Elysium Space founder Thomas Civeit is putting his NASA experience to work at making it more affordable. By comparison, Celestis’s Earth orbit service costs at least $4,995, though the company does offer a $995 flight that goes up into zero-gravity and comes back down.
The timing of Elysium Space’s public launch is curious, as it coincides with the theatrical release of the unrelated film Elysium. Civeit asserts that’s a coincidence, as he chose the name two years ago as a reference to the Greek afterlife.
So far, the space burial industry has appealed mostly to public figures, such as astronaut Gordon Cooper, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and actor James Doohan (“Scotty” from the original Star Trek). For his part, Civeit says the market research he’s done suggests strong consumer demand for the service.
Time will tell whether said demand translates into actual capsule sales, but if it does, the sky’s the limit for this startup.
Image credit: iStockphoto
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