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Elysium Space
Elysium Space says its memorial payload will eventually burn up in the atmosphere. (Elysium Space Photo)

Elysium Space has struck a deal to give people an out-of-this-world memorial by sending their cremated remains into orbit.

The startup, headquartered in San Francisco, announced today that its Elysium Star II memorial spacecraft is due to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California next year aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, as part of a dedicated rideshare mission organized by Seattle-based Spaceflight.

About 100 people have signed up so far to have their loved ones’ ashes sent into sun-synchronous orbit so far, but spots are still available for the upcoming launch, at prices starting at $2,490.

The cost includes a ride to space, along with a smartphone app that shows where the spacecraft is in real time. The remains will orbit Earth for two years before re-entering the atmosphere as a shooting star, Elysium said.

Spaceflight says next year’s SSO-A rideshare mission is booked to 90 percent capacity, with more than 20 payloads from around the world. Among the other payloads is KNACKSAT, the first satellite fully built in Thailand by a university team.

Elysium also has a deal with Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic to send remains to the moon, for a price as low as $9,950, but Astrobotic’s lunar mission hasn’t yet been scheduled.

Elysium isn’t the first company sending cremated remains into space. A Houston-based venture known as Celestis has been doing it for 20 years. Celestis’ clients have included Gene Roddenberry and James “Scotty” Doohan of Star Trek fame, as well as Mercury/Gemini astronaut Gordon Cooper.

Celestis has three ride-along flights on its manifest for this year: a suborbital launch from New Mexico on an UP Aerospace rocket; an orbital launch from Florida on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket; and a mission to the moon, to be launched from New Zealand on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket as part of a deal with Moon Express.

Rocket Lab says it will conduct its first test launch in preparation for the lunar mission next week.

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