When the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket took off from Cape Canaveral earlier this week, it didn't only carry supplies for the International Space Station -- it also held the ashes of 320 people who wished to have parts of their bodies distributed in space.
Placed on part of the spacecraft by Celestis, a company which specializes in 'memorial spaceflights,' Falcon 9 marks Celestis' 11th mission into space since its founding in 1995.
"People who sign up are from all over the world," Celestis' president Charles Chafer told The Huffington Post Canada. "They represent a cross-section, from astonauts to movie stars to truck drivers and young children. I think an interest in space and astronomy is a big factor, but I liken it to people who choose sea scattering. They like the 'joining Mother Earth' element, and in this case, they like to think people will be able to look up on a starry night and they'll be there."
For this particular flight, notable names included Star Trek's James "Scotty" Doohan (who has flown on two other Celestis missions) and astronaut Gordon Cooper, who passed away in 2004 (and has flown with one other mission). Only a symbolic portion of the ashes are placed on the spacecraft, and prices range from $1,000 to $12,000, "depending on where you're going and how much of you is going," says Chafer.
The individual ashes are put into capsules or modules, which then go into flight canisters. The canisters are attached permanently to a space-bound structure, like a rocket or satellite, which orbits the Earth for a certain amount of time (anywhere from a year to hundreds of years) before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere and burning away completely.
"We say it's like a shooting star," explains Chafer. "We never add anything to the space environment that wasn't going there anyway."
SEE: There are many creative things people can now do with cremated remains. Check out these options -- perhaps there's something there for you:
If you're a fan of giant, colourful explosions, then having some or all of your ashes made into firework ammo probably sounds like a great idea to you. In 2005, writer Hunter S. Tompson's ashes were blown into the sky as a final farewell. But if you want to keep it in the family, companies like Heavenly Stars Fireworks put on both self-ignited shows and professional 'finale' firework displays using ashes.
Imagine leaving behind your favourite talent for everyone else to master. Carbon Copies makes pencils (at least 240 pencils can be made with an average body of ash, so yes, plenty to go around) from the carbon of human ashes. Each pencil is also stamped with the name of your loved one.
For most people, the idea of going to space is out of the question, unless of course you're Ashton Kutcher and have over $200,000 to spare. Celestis, a company specializing in 'memorial spaceflights' can take your loved one's ashes to space starting at $1000.
From A Plane
The idea of flying just became a little easier. Scattering ashes from a plane, or even a cruise ship, is quite common among people who have specific destinations of where their loved ones wanted to be. A Journey With Wings, for example, provides private and open (to friends and family) scatterings.
Memorial teddy bears from Huggable Urns came about, according to the creator, after his father passed away and communicated that he didn't want to end up in an "ugly container." These teddy bears allowed the site's founder to be with his father whenever he wanted.
If your loved one was a fan of baseball, or any sport for that matter, they can spend eternity in a baseball field. This practice is not supported by many major ballparks, but people have been able to sneak in their ashes when they could.
Talk about staying in style forever. Some companies allow you to create custom certified diamonds that you can easily wear as a piece of jewellery.
Want to keep your record spinning for eternity? And Vinyl allows customers to press their loved one's or pet's ashes into a vinyl record. You can even record your own personal message or add a soundtrack of your choice.
Holy Smoke LLC thinks life should be celebrated. The company in Alabama began turning ashes into ammo to let family members fire away.
"Turn over whenever you like." InTheLightTurns.com lets customers store their loved one's ashes into hourglasses as ultimate keepsakes.
Don't tell your kids this is the reason you're going to Disneyland. In 2007, some people were allegedly dumping "white powder" into water areas in the park. Some sites claim people's ashes just wanted to be at "the happiest place on earth."
More on the traditional side, ashes can also be stored into tiny pendants and worn around necks or on bracelets.
Located east of Key Biscayne in Miami, the Memorial Reef project takes ashes to create underwater reefs. Families and loved ones are allowed to dive in or snorkel to watch the reefs grow over time.
We've all seen traditional urns, but some sites let you get a little fancy. Cremation Solutions lets customers make personalized birdhouses that act as garden monuments.
Giant helium balloons let you transport ashes into the clouds. Families are usually allowed to choose balloon colours -- in most cases, blue, red yellow or green -- and costs can start around $1000.
Usually the size of your palm, glass paperweights are made by blowing glass with ashes and carving engraved personal messages on the bottom.
For those who want to live forever, this may be the closest thing. Biopresence creates human DNA trees by combining ashes with soil to create "living memorials."
It can be difficult to think about literally using one's ashes -- or cremains -- in an everyday object, but it also make a fair amount of sense -- after all, why not keep them with you in a somewhat utilitarian fashion? Companies like Ashes to Portraits use cremains to create memorial images of the deceased, leaving you with an intimate picture. Others, like Daniel Ortega, incorporate people's ashes into his work, adding in other elements to honour their memories.
Many people get tattoos to commemorate those they've lost in their lives -- but now artists are taking it to the next level with tattoos made with powders that literally use loved ones' ashes. While most artists tend not to divulge how they do it (for competitive reasons), the process generally involves grinding the ashes into a powder and mixing it with the tattoo ink.
When Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan's mother passed away in 2003, he wanted to help her travel the world (she'd been paralyzed since 1975) -- so he scattered her ashes across his vineyard, Caduceus Cellars and named a wine in her honour, saying, "she gets to travel the world now."