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by Dale Connelly, 6/30/00

Dc: This is DCR, a news program not to be believed. The commercialization of outer space is proceeding in small increments.
In the news lately we've read of the possibility of tourist trips to the Mir space station, and corporate sponsorship of probes and lunar rovers, and even outer space burials.
This is the natural consequence of human extension into an area. Wherever we go, along with us go commerce and advertising.
But that notion of space burial is an especially touchy subject.
Joining me is Harold Looming, director of extraterrestrial internment at a funeral home called Peaceful Craters. But the funeral home is not actually … I mean, your office is here, on the planet.

Looming: That's right. Only the internment is in outer space. Our proper place is here, on Earth, close to the grieving relatives.

Dc: What does it cost to do this?

Looming: Cost is an important part of any plan, but we find it's insensitive to discuss it first, as a determining factor. The initial question in our process is "what sort of space journey would the deceased want?"

Dc: And … what are the options?

Looming: Well, we can send you or your loved one into an earth orbit which will slowly decay and end in a glorious high altitude cremation … or you can opt for deep space burial, a kind of endless floating with an attached plaque and the remote hope of discovery and perhaps even re-animation by some sophisticated extraterrestrial intelligent life sometime in the distant future, or we also offer the wonderful legacy of a lunar burial.

Dc: And this is all rather expensive?

Looming: Again, cost is only one factor and not the first priority. We're thinking about legacy, about a sense of completeness. If your loved one or yourself has had a space journey as an ultimate lifetime goal … even though life has ended, just the fact that the travel is now an available option … is something of a comfort to those who stay behind.

Dc: Plus, on occasions like Memorial Day and anniversaries and such, a space burial means there's no potentially expensive travel for the grieving relatives. You just look up at the night sky, and … there's grandpa.

Looming: Yes, that may be. But again, the money … I would never emphasize any kind of cost/benefit ratio as part of this. Even though the price of cut flowers continues to skyrocket and gasoline … well …

Dc: Enough said!

Looming: Making a case of the financial drain of visiting and maintaining and honoring even a nearby grave site, year in and year out over and over and over again … compared to the clean, one time only investment of blasting the remains into outer space … that's just too callous, and I wouldn't do it.

Dc: That's very sensitive.

Looming: Sensitivity is my job.

Dc: And there are a lot of issues.

Looming: Yes. An outer space burial leaves some family members feeling resentful and confused.

Dc: I suppose.

Looming: We produced a video to help families communicate with each other on this issue. Would you like to see it?

Dc: Sure!

(sfx: rocket launch)
(music: peaceful)

Mom: See that big moon up there, Timmy? Uncle Frank is buried there.

Kid: Wasn't Uncle Frank kind of obese? How'd they get him up there?

Mom: (chuckle) Well, Uncle Frank didn't weigh as much when we sent him there … and we did it with a rocket. So now he's at rest with the …

Kid: (apalled) So you put his body in a rocket and shot it to the moon?

Mom: Not his dead body, son. His cremated remains. His ashes.

Kid: A rocket hauled his ashes to the moon?

Mom: Not all his ashes. Just seven ounces. In a lipstick sized container.

Kid: Where's the rest of him, then?

Mom: We .. uh … scattered them out at the driving range where he wasted …. I mean spent so much money and time.
So now when we look up at the moon …

Kid: You scattered his ashes on the golfers?

Mom: No, we scattered them when nobody was around.
At night, in the moonlight.

Kid: So … this rocket went up there and landed on the moon and unloaded Uncle Frank into a kinda mausoleum or something?

Mom: Um ….

Kid: Like with a plaque or something? That says "we came in pieces for all mankind?"

Mom: Well yes and no. The rocket didn't really land. It crashed into the moon.

Kid: You put part of Uncle Frank in a rocket crash? So the ashes aren't even together anymore?

Mom: No, they're scattered, like on the driving range. But that means he's a part of the moon, and when we …

Kid: What did it cost to get him his own rocket?

Mom: He didn't … he wasn't alone. There were a lot of people's ashes in the rocket.

Kid: (shocked) So his minuscule burned up parts of Uncle Frank are mixed in with bits of complete strangers parts after a violent crash on the moon?

Mom: Well, yes.

Kid: What if some of them were Democrats? You know how he felt about liberals! How could you do that to him?

Mom: This is what he wanted.

Kid: And WHAT did it cost?

Mom: It's a little insensitive to talk about cost in this …


Mom: About $20 thousand.

Kid: Dollars? That he could have left me for college? Augh!

Dc: Well I see what you mean about issues.

Looming: Yes, it's quite difficult.

Kid: Uncle Frank, what a selfish dope!

Looming: Oops. Darn tape.

Dc: So there's more?

Looming: Not really. The actors got a bit carried away. They won't be back.

Dc: So eventually cost does become an issue.

Looming: Hopefully not until the services have already been provided and the loved one is safely in orbit.

Dc: Harold Looming, director of extraterrestrial internment at Peaceful Craters, a funeral home that caters to the needs of those who are looking for an outer space burial.

Looming: And we also do just plain catering.
But it comes out of a separate building.

Dc: How nice. Thanks.

Looming: I'm happy to have met your needs.

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