Space burials are no longer the stuff of science fiction (and wealthy science fiction TV show creators.)
The cremated remains of more than 450 people have been shot into orbit since Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry paved the way in 1992, most of them on private memorial spaceflights with dozens of other ash samples.
And yet, despite the promise of space being a unique "resting place," almost every tiny vial of remains ever sent there has come back down to Earth or burned up upon re-entry.
This wouldn't have happened had the ashes landed on Earth's moon — a fact that hasn't been lost on the companies pioneering futuristic funeral technologies.
The San Francisco-based company Elysium Space officially launched its 'lunar memorial' service earlier this month, and will soon be sending the remains of a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier's mother upwards as part of its first ever moon burial.
"Families now have the historic opportunity to commemorate their departed loved ones every night through the everlasting splendor and soft illumination of the Earth's closest companion: the Moon," wrote Elysium in a press release announcing its newest service, which will be carried out with the help of Pittsburgh-based lunar logistics company Astrobotic Technology.
A response in the FAQ section of the company's website further explains how the lunar burials will work:
"You receive a kit containing a custom ash capsule to collect a cremated remains sample. After we receive the ash capsule back from you, we place your capsule in the Elysium memorial spacecraft. The latter is eventually integrated to the Astrobotic lander during the designated integration event. From here, the lander is integrated onto the launch vehicle. On launch day, the remains are carried to the moon where the lander will be deployed to its dedicated location, preserving our memorial spacecraft for eternity."
Because Elysium can only send a small portion of cremated remains to the moon (less than a gram), participants aren't actually paying to have their loved ones "buried" on the moon.
The announcement of the service is still stirring up quite a bit of interest online for its novelty, however — though it should be noted that the cremated remains of geologist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker were already sent to the moon on NASA's Lunar Prospector craft in 1998.
Celestis, the company that helped Shoemaker's friends arrange his final mission, offers a similar service to Elysium's, though it hasn't sent any ashes to the moon since 1998.
It's also slightly more expensive at $12,500 for one gram of cremated remains, and up to approximately $37,500 for seven grams.
Elysium's moon burial service costs $11,950 regularly, but, according to the company, "Early reservations for the Lunar Memorial service open at $9,950 for the first 50 participants."
While this is no small chunk of change, it's not as exorbitantly expensive as some appear to have imagined — especially in light of how much funerals, burials and headstones can cost on Earth (between $7,000 and $10,000 on average in North America according to Smithsonian Magazine.)
If I'm going to spend almost $12,000 on a moon burial, you'd better send ALL of my cremated remains. http://t.co/Mfq1pRPqHY— @radiometricx