Precious payload: SpaceX sends ashes of loved ones beyond the stars

Space company Celestis provides out-of-this-world memorials

SpaceX launches 17th Starlink mission

ORLANDO, Fla. – As people gathered on the Space Coast Sunday for another magnificent SpaceX launch, others watched the lift-off to say their final farewells to loved ones.

Among the satellites in its payload were other precious cargo: ashes.

SpaceX had several customers sending satellites for this launch including DARPA and NASA. Celestis was among the lesser-known names who also signed up to send up ashes aboard the Falcon 9 rocket as part of the company’s payload, providing an intergalactic memorial for families.

The company, established in 1994, promises “a memorial service that will reach into the endless universe,” bringing on SpaceX to be part of its heartfelt mission.

This lift off sent the ashes of 104 people into orbit.

Astronaut Nicole Stott joined live coverage of Sunday’s Celestis Horizon Flight Launch, sharing her experience as a space explorer and mother who chose the out-of-this-world memorial for her daughter.

“My daughter was in the place of your loved one as well,” Stott said. “My hope was that she was feeling -- that they’ll be feeling -- that same sense that we did strapped in at the pad.”

Stott described being launched into space as a sense of liberation, an opportunity to truly release oneself. She said she imagines Celestis memorial flights to be the same for loved ones physically leaving Earth.

The former astronaut also enlisted Celestis to pay tribute to her daughter in 2012. She describes the decision as the perfect way to keep her daughter close, while still giving her the opportunity for an incredible adventure.

“The best way for us to continue to hold her closest to us would be to send her on her own journey amongst the stars,” Stott said in her message. “We still look to the night sky and feel her here with us.”

If you’re interested in more information for this one-of-a-kind tribute, you can get more details here.

About the Author:

Gaby is a multimedia producer from Miami. She graduated from the University of Florida and joined the News 6 team in 2018.