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"The ashes are placed in a lipstick-sized flight capsule."
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Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Firm offers Moon burial
Perfect peace: The first extraterrestrial graveyard
Perfect peace: The first extraterrestrial graveyard
The ultimate in peaceful final resting places may now be within reach as a US company is offering a burial service on the Moon.

Texas-based Celestis has already sent the remains of 100 people into Earth orbit, but now claims it will drop ashes on to the lunar surface.

The company says it is negotiating with commercial firms who are planning missions to the Moon. These may occur in the next two or three years and the ashes would be carried on board as cargo.

The first person to be laid to rest using this service will be Mareta West, the geologist who picked the site for the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing. She died in 1998.

Two grams

It is planned to place about two grams of her cremated remains on the Moon.

She will not be the first Earthling to have some of her ashes sent to the Earth satellite. Ashes of the astronomer Gene Shoemaker crashed into the lunar surface last year aboard Nasa's Lunar Prospector spacecraft.

Cap Ap
The remains go in these lipstick-sized capsules
Marilyn Bohon, a friend of West's family, said she and others decided to send the geologist's remains to the Moon after reading about the orbital "burials".

"It just hooked me," she said. She recalled that West's sister was once asked whether Mareta West would have gone to the Moon if she could have. The answer was a resounding yes, Ms Bohon said.

High fee

Celestis is paying for West's final trip, but will offer the service to the public for a $12,500 fee.

Celestis president Chan Tysor said this is "not completely out of line with what people might spend on a traditional funeral".

He added that West's remains could hitch a ride with a commercial space mission in the next two or three years.

Celestis' first launch in April 1997 took the same approach. Then, a Pegasus rocket launched both a Spanish research satellite and a container of ashes into Earth orbit. Two more flights have followed.

These so-called Earthview flights, cost $5,300 each.

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28 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
Moon burial for geologist
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