On July 31, 1999, NASA’s Lunar Prospector probe purposely hit the bottom of a crater of eternal darkness, burying with it in lunar soil the ashes of the father of planetary science, geologist Eugene M. Shoemaker. Two years earlier, Celestis, a space funeral service company, sent the first cremated human remains to Earth orbit.
The mission that took Shoemaker to his grave off Earth was Celestis flight Luna 01; Luna 02 (or Tranquility Flight, or “Tranquility Flight”) must have as its illustrious passenger the legendary science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke (or, at least, samples of his DNA), who died in 2008.
The Peregrine module, from the company Astrobotic, should land in mid-2021 in an area in the northeast of the Moon called Lacus Mortis (dead lagoon, in Latin) carrying ashes from 60 people on board. Reservations for Luna 02, at a starting price of $ 12,500 each, are closed.
“This mission and the subsequent ones pay tribute to those who wish to make a tangible contribution to the continued exploration of humanity and the peaceful use of space. As humanity expands beyond the limits of a single planet, it is particularly appropriate that we carry out our rituals, celebrations and memorials with us, ”said the CEO and one of Celestis’s founders, Charles Chafer, on the Space website.
According to him, “Luna, one of the most popular services, provides families and friends with the permanence of a tomb off the planet and provides a constant reminder in the night sky of a loved one’s final resting place”.
Where no human being has ever been
People may be on board more than one mission: the ashes of James Doohan, the original Mr. Scott of Star Trek were on board the Explorers, Legacy and New Frontier flights – and will still integrate the first flight into the orbit of the Sun .
It will be called Enterprise and, according to the company, “it will be launched from Earth, it will travel beyond the gravitational range of the Moon and it will become one of the few spaceships infinitely orbiting the Sun – a truly permanent tribute.”
The flight is due to take place at the end of 2022 and will have two distinguished passengers on board: Star Trek writer and producer Gene Roddenbery (whose ashes went into space on Celestis’ first flight in 1997, the Founders Flight) and his wife, the actress Majel Barret.
However, no one has yet achieved the glory of Pluto’s discoverer, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh: his ashes travel aboard the New Horizons probe, on the way to deep space, outside the solar system.