The space and satellite industry is more exotically retail than ever, in ways we only imagined before.
Right now, you or a loved one can join three dead American Presidents to have your remains “buried” in space. The same company that exits once-hailed chiefs offers a service that sends you there and lets you track the remains as they pass over your home in low earth orbit. The mind-blowing “memorial spaceflight company” in Texas, Celestis, does it at a very affordable price point and has one of the best business models of its type that I’ve come across.
Say good-bye to embalming and hello to time travel and the rocket. Celestis, founded by entrepreneur Charles Chafer, sends cremated remnants of deceased individuals into earth orbit, to the Moon, Deep Space or – if the family wants your remains back in the living room for eternity – will send you up and back down. According to the CEO of United Launch Alliance, Tory Bruno, the company will use Vulcan’s debut to launch the DNA remains of John F. Kennedy and the father of this country (you know him as the face on the one-dollar bill), George Washington. The presidents will be in good company as they ride the amazing Vulcan. The creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, and his wife Mabel Barrett Roddenberry will be going up and out too.
If only Eleanor Rigby were here to see this!
Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?
Space is giving fresh perspective to another ancient human experience: the search for ultimate meaning.
There’s more to our brave new industry than the technology that gets us to space or even observes it. The marriage of science and awe have found new expressions and new champions. Consider that if Celestis launches your remains, they might be observed by the distinguished astronomer and Carl Sagan Medal recipient Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J.
The legendary Director of the Vatican Observatory, known as the “Pope’s Astronomer,” explores connections between meteorites, asteroids and the evolution of small solar system bodies. He seeks to understand asteroid origins and structure.
Popes have had an observatory since 1591! While science and faith seem to collide in today’s world, Brother Guy, who is a rock star, easily navigates between them. He speaks about this in appearances on forums with titles like Jesuits and Jedis. He owns some of the most soulful soundbites in our industry such as, “There’s more to the universe than what’s for Lunch.” He even has his own asteroid, 4597 Consolmagno. 4597 is not as sonorous as a Gregorian chant, but the discovery of 4597 was just as wondrous.
Sounds from “Out There”
If you want further out sounds – which, to some, are sacred - we’ve got those, too.
In fact, your ashes or DNA can be sent to the great beyond accompanied by a musical track made up of the atonal belching of black holes as well as riffs of exploding galaxies and asteroids. Neither a Gregorian Chant nor the Berlin Orchestra, it is one of the most creative compositions of our moment, courtesy of NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Chandra, a delightful visualization scientist and the observatory’s lead, Dr. Kimberly Arcand, has been delving into data sonification with passion. If her name rings a chime, you may know her from her Smithsonian series “How to be a Scientist,” which brought attention to the 3D visualizations of astronomical objects.
She has put together an album from the sounds of the universe.
Dr. Arcand and the lab were kind enough to give SSPI the rights to use the music for my podcast, The Better Satellite World, as well as a new series, sponsored by Atlas Space called The Road Less Travelled. The series includes my conversations with Dr. Arcand as well as Brother Guy and Colby Youngblood, the president of Celestis. It also includes a conversation with Brad Bode, founder of Atlas Space, whose fertile and creative mind is on display. You’ll learn how a former scriptwriter created some of the most innovative software in the industry.
The Road Less Travelled drops next week. You can subscribe to the podcast at www.sspi.org/cpages/podcasts. You can hear the sound of Dr. Arcand’s celestial compositions every Monday because the track Deep Field South, in X-Ray Light is the new title song for our podcast!