Sunday, 5 October 2014

Space Sunday - Space Burials Of Human Remains

As a matter of fact ...

There are over 100 dead humans in space. Technically speaking, their ashes are in space. 

Gene Roddenberry was the creator of Star Trek and
first person to have their remains buried in space

The tradition of these 'space-burials' began in 1992 when NASA's shuttle 'Collumbia' carried a portion of Gene Roddenberry's ashes into space. Gene was one of the original writers and creators of Star Trek. A fitting ceremony for arguably the father of modern sci-fi. 

In the 22 years since, the tradition has, pardon the pun, taken off. The most recent launch was last years' Celestis Mission which carried samples of 31 human remains. 

Eugene Shomaker: buried on the moon

Sometimes, outer space just isn't enough. The astronomer responsible for discover the coment 'Shoemaker-Levy 9' was Dr Eugene Shoemaker. His remains were buried on the moon in 1999. To my knowledge, he's the first person to be buried in non-terrestrial ground.  

Outer space and then the moon. Where to next for human resting places? Try out of the the solar system. The remains of the man who discovered Pluto in 1930, Clyde Tombaugh, are set to be on board a shuttle destined to fly past the dwarf-planet and out of our solar system. I think thats an incredible sentiment. Imagine discovering something in space and being able to visit it in a sense long after your death.

Cylde Tombaugh and the plaque inscribed on the shuttle
set to carry his remains out of the solar system
There is something quite poetic to all this. No longer are we 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust' but rather 'ashes to ashes, space dust to space dust.' All life's components came from the stars in outer space, and humans are starting to return there: a cosmic cycle has begun. 
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