Gone are the days when, following your demise, you would be thrown in the pit with the other plague victims or catapulted at your enemies. Now there is a smorgasbord of disposal options available to your corpse, from aquamation to the horrifying world of cryonics.
One option, apparently available since at least 1994, is to have your ashes blasted out into space. Space burial firm Celestis launches the remains of its clients onboard other flights, releasing them to either remain in orbit around Earth, be sent out into deep space, or forever stay on the surface of the Moon. Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, is among those who have opted for the celestial burial, alongside series creator Gene Roddenberry and astronaut L. Gordon Cooper.
In a recent New York Times interview with members of the public opting for space burials, they outlined their own reasons for it, ranging from being afraid of the darkness involved in burial to their love of the unknown.
One particular standout answer came from professor of physics Kenneth Ohm, who plans to send his DNA to the lunar south pole. As well as giving his family an opportunity to think of him when they look up at the Moon, Ohm is launching his DNA up there for “practical” purposes too. He told the New York Times that it was partly in case advanced humans or alien civilizations should find his DNA 30-40,000 years in the future and use it for something exciting.
Ohm suggested that aliens could have a Ken Ohm placed in an intergalactic zoo, for instance, or raise an army of Ken clones to be distributed throughout the universe. It’s nice to have a (presumably not entirely serious) dream.
Even assuming aliens don’t decide to raise an army of your clones for unknowable or unfathomable reasons, launching remains into space includes a memorial service and tour of the launch site, followed by a sendoff that beats the cremation parlor followed by nibbles.