San Francisco startup brings space funerals to Japan

San Francisco startup brings space funerals to Japan

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See the original story in Japanese.

When loved ones pass away, sometimes we might imagine that they became a star shining in the night sky. But one startup is looking to make this idea a reality.

San Francisco-based Elysium Space, a company providing space memorial services, announced it has launched its business in the Japanese market on Monday, following its US launch back in August. Elysium delivers the ashes of a deceased family member into the space for as little as $1,990. You can even send the ashes of your pet as well.

Coinciding with its launch in Japan, we had a chance to speak with ex-NASA engineer and the startup’s founder and CEO Thomas Civeit. He says they plan to have their own spacecraft but are still exploring better ways to deliver the ashes. At this point, they plan to partner with space transport companies like Space X, asking them to launch a spacecraft for delivery from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He explained:

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There are many options for rocket launch sites but they are typically surrounded by off-limits areas. For our customers who are willing to watch the launch scene, I believe Florida is the best of them.

Disney World is located nearby, where you can visit with your family members after watching the launch. It may be possible to partner with travel agencies to arrange a tour having those destinations.

The launch scene will be live-streamed as well as recorded so that family can watch without visiting the launch site. He adds:

A funeral service in space is not a new concept at all. What’s innovative here is that we can provide it for as little as US$1,990.

There are space-focused ventures elsewhere but most of them are government funded. In contrast, our company is completely funded from private investors.

We also asked about possible concerns people may have in Japan (should they fall from space), as water burial is illegal here. But it seems their service would not result in any legal trouble since the spacecraft would be launched from the US.

The company has already introduced mobile apps for iOS and Android, where you can preview the kind of experience you will get through the service. In addition to accepting applications via its website, Elysium is in talk with Japanese funeral services for potential partnerships.

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From the left: Benjamin Joffe (Director of Communication),
Thomas Civeit (CEO),
Naruo Kanemoto (Director of Business Development)