Column Date 2008-04-01

Bang, zoom, straight to the moon, Alice!

Ralph Kramden said that when he was exasperated with his wife, Alice, on "The Honeymooners," a hit TV show in the mid-50's.

And now it's coming true.

A Texas company called "Celestis" will now take the cremated remains of your loved one and deposit them on the moon.

No joke – you just give them one gram of your beloved's cremated remains (plus a check for $9,995) and the remains are put into a tiny capsule on board a lunar explorer vehicle. When the vehicle has finished its work, it remains on the surface of the moon, theoretically forever. And your loved one rests there in peace and quiet.

I know what you're thinking: what happens if the spacecraft blows up on the launch pad, or doesn't make it all the way to the moon?

Not to worry. The company will, at no charge to you, place a second sample of your loved one's remains on the next scheduled flight. (They'll also invite you to watch the launch in person, including a pre-launch briefing. And you'll receive a memorial plaque, suitable for home or office.)

I don't know about you, but this whole idea has a creepy feel to it. And there's a chance that this "Bang, zoom, straight to the moon!" concept might just be looney enough to catch on.

If it does, we'll eventually be looking up at a moon whose surface is littered with the cremated remains of millions of humans.

Where does the Sierra Club stand on this issue?

What does the Nature Conservancy think?

Will it set up a special fund to buy the surface of the moon – to keep it a pristine wilderness for all to enjoy? (Note: I'm talking about the visible, front surface here. What happens on the dark and unseen side of the moon doesn't really bother me. However, I can already see new conservation groups forming around this issue. Someplace in Northern California, I would guess.)

These are big questions, and it's time to start talking about them before the damage is done.

There is, by the way, an alternative offered by the same company.

Depending on your budget, and on your relationship with your beloved, you can also have him or her put into a capsule and sent out into deep, deep space.  
This "Deep Space" service starts at $12,500.

But who can put a price on eternal love?

©2008 Peter Tannen