On Wednesday, the cremated ashes of 47 people from five countries will be launched from the Space Coast.
Celestis said the remains will be affixed to a telecommunications satellite that will orbit for nearly a decade. Once decommissioned, the satellite’s contents are likely to burn upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Celestis was founded in the 1990s by Charles Chafer, who credits space advances with allowing the company to expand its number of launches from one flight over a seven-year period to five scheduled launches over the next 14 months.
“I’d like to say that there aren’t any other funerals or memorial services that have as much cheering and high fiving as we do when that rocket rocket lifts off,” Chafer said.
On Monday, 160 people from across the world arrived in Brevard County to take part in a three-day memorial for their loved ones, leading up to the launch Wednesday afternoon.
The company said their packages start at about $5,000.
Michael Dufton said his mother trained with NASA about 60 years ago as part of the first all-female Mercury Mission crew, which was eventually cancelled due to concerns over women in space.
“She was invited to participate in that, and that was one of her greatest regrets in life — that she never got to go to outer space,” Dufton said.
“At the end of 10 years, it will eventually return to the atmosphere as a shooting star along with all those on board.” Carrying a framed picture of her son Travis, who passed away a year ago, Melissa Casey arrived from Ohio to share her son’s story with other families whose loved ones will orbit in space together.
“He wanted to be cremated and sent to space. It was a dream of his,” Casey said. “He is going to be so proud to be up there, hanging out with all these other families and watching over all of us.” The company provides families with GPS data for the satellite, so they know when their loved one is passing in the sky above them.