Affordable Space Memorials the Way of the Future

by M-Gillies
man and child watching a shooting star in night sky

Elysium Space will be offering its first memorial spaceflight in 2014.

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” – Sarah Williams, English Poet

Since the dawn of humankind, space has long fascinated humankind. From Nicolaus Copernicus to Gene Roddenberry, from Galileo Galilei to Stephen Hawking, from Isaac Newton to Walt Disney our species has looked to the sky in awe and admiration of the unlimited potential that lay beyond our reach. This desire stems from our collective wish to explore the unknown and while for some, it may not be possible to experience the infinite beyond of space in this lifetime; one company is making it possible for the average person with space flight memorials.

Taking its name from the Greek religious and philosophical belief of Elysian Fields, a conception of the afterlife separate from Hades, where admission was reserved for the righteous, the heroic mortals chosen by gods to remain after death to live a blessed and happy life, Elysium Space Inc. is the newest memorial company offering affordable and dignified memorial spaceflights that honor and celebrate the uniqueness of life.

Comprised of a unique team of space and funeral experts, the San Francisco-based company, Elysium Space Inc. was founded in March 2013, by Thomas Civeit, a former space system engineer. With his extensive experience in space mission operations while working at NASA, which include the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope and the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer mission, Civeit soon moved to the west coast in 2010, to work at the NASA Ames Research Centre.

It was here, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, working for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that Civeit was exposed to the entrepreneurial culture of the Bay Area. With the NewSpace movement exploring energy harnessing, the mining of asteroids and planets, expandable space station modules, space real estate, space tourism and private spaceflight technologies that support low-cost access to space, Civeit realized how technology is “turning humanity into an interplanetary species.” This soon led him to thinking about space burials and memorial spaceflights.

“Space is a majestic place that is not just for science,” said Civeit, “it has inherent values like beauty as well. It was very inspiring and I started working on (my idea).”

Within a few months, Civeit organized his team of space and funeral experts, combing a wide background of knowledge people ranging from space systems engineering to anthropology and funeral directing. With the aid of financial investors, Elysium Space Inc. began conducting surveys to validate the interest of people.

“We found that people who are comfortable with cremation and ash scattering are likely to enjoy a memorial spaceflight,” Civeit said. “In general, people like to scatter ashes on scenic nature spots, and space is just another great option.”

But there was something that Civeit would soon learn which would affect the feasibility of such a business.

“We found that the price (plays an important) part of the equation,” Civeit said, “so it was important for us to work hard to make it as affordable as possible. The Cosmos is something meaningful for humanity since the age of time. This is something beyond space enthusiasts. Today’s family values are calling for new funeral experiences.”

With that, Elysium Space Inc. offers a memorial spaceflight service that costs just under $2000 and offers services such as the collection and launch of a cremated remains sample into space, the printing of initials on the capsule containing the remains, the printing of a personal message on the memorial spacecraft, an invitation to the launch viewing event, a professionally produced video of the launch event, and a certificate attesting the completion of the memorial spaceflight.

As well, family and friends can watch the journey using the free mobile app which shows, in real-time, the spacecraft location and how the world looks from orbit.

At this time, Elysium Space Inc.’s inaugural launch is scheduled for the summer of 2014, with the event-taking place at the Cape Canaveral launch facility in Florida.

“So far, the feedback has been fantastic,” Civeit said. “This is very exciting to see that thousands of people all over the world are sharing our vision. In general, memorial services are not something that one needs right away, but we have to educate the public to let families know that space is now an option.”

With spaceflight memorials gaining more in momentum, Civeit said, “Ichijo Shinya, who founded the Moon Rise Funeral Company in Japan wrote in the early 80s, that: Now is the time to change the vision of death from the Underground to the Celestial. I am glad we can make him right today.”

Elysium Space Inc.

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