The Newest Frontier in Final Resting Places: The Moon

You may never fulfill your childhood dream of becoming an astronaut, but now, a San Francisco-based company called Elysium Space can help you visit the moon—when you’re dead.

Elysium Space has created small metallic cubes that serve as a sort of space age urn. Cremated remains can be stored in the cubes and will be sent to the moon’s surface with the help of Astrobotic Technology in Pittsburgh (their Griffin Lander will make for a soft landing) and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

The first 50 reservations for a lunar eternal slumber will each cost $9,950, and anyone after that will have to pay $2,000 more. That might seem exorbitant, but funerals tend to average anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000, which means the moon memorial is pretty normal, cost-wise.

The honor of the very first 'burial' will go to the mother of Steve Jenks, who died recently after a battle with cancer. Jenks, an Iraq war infantryman, kept in touch with his mom by writing letters. She always ended hers with: “No matter how lonely you feel and how far you are, always look at the Moon and know I am with you. I love you to the Moon and back.”

Elysium Space also offers a Shooting Star Memorial, in which the remains will be sent into low-Earth orbit and then return to Earth to “end this celestial journey as a shooting star.” The Milky Way Memorial takes the opposite approach, sending capsules into deep space. Clyde Tombaugh—the astronomer who discovered Pluto—is the first to have that honor, as his remains are aboard NASA’s New Horizons probe.

For anyone considering this new frontier of final resting places, rest assured it’s all above board. Astrobotic has a grant from the Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

[h/t Jezebel]

A Vertical Cemetery for Cities Running Out of Room for Their Dead

Finding a place to die can be as expensive as finding a place to live. As the world’s population grows, the available graveyard space is shrinking. Arlington National Cemetery is running out of room to bury U.S. service members, while Manhattan only has one active cemetery—and as of last summer, the only available pair of burial plots on sale there were priced at $350,000 each.

Just like cities grow taller to accommodate more people, cemeteries may need to get vertical, too. A new design concept by Fredrik Thornström and Karolina Pajnowska, master’s students at the Lund University School of Architecture in Sweden, shows what that might look like: a vertical columbarium (a place to store urns) built into a cluster of silos.

The design includes an in-house crematorium as well as places to display all the urns. Within empty silos that include waterfalls, the urns would be placed on individual shelves that spiral up the walls. Each individual urn shelf would be accessible through the back side of the display via a walkway that leads up the silo.

Thornström and Pajnowska are not the first designers to come up with an idea for a skyscraper cemetery, but their concept would be relatively easy to implement using out-of-use silo infrastructure.

[h/t Dezeen]

All images by Fredrik Thornström and Karolina Pajnowska.

Why a Maryland Cemetery Initially Rejected F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Corpse
Getty Images // Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

F. Scott Fitzgerald was only 44 years old when he suffered a fatal heart attack, following years of heavy drinking and various alcohol-related health problems. When he died on December 21, 1940, Fitzgerald had been living in Hollywood, California with his mistress, the gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. After audiences had lost interest in his earlier Jazz Age novels like 1925's The Great Gatsby, he moved to Hollywood to try to make a living by writing screenplays. When Fitzgerald died, his estranged wife, Zelda, was living in a mental hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. She helped arrange for his body to be shipped from California to Rockville, Maryland, so he could be buried with his father, Edward, at the Fitzgerald’s family plot at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

St. Mary's, however, refused to accept Fitzgerald’s corpse. The parish priest there told Zelda and Fitzgerald’s lawyer that St. Mary's only buried good Catholics, and Fitzgerald was not considered a good Catholic: He didn’t regularly attend confession, he didn’t take communion, and he was not worthy of being laid to rest on the holy ground at St. Mary’s cemetery.

So, Zelda sent her husband’s body to Rockville Cemetery, a less-strict cemetery about a mile away from St. Mary’s. Two dozen people attended Fitzgerald’s rainy funeral service, including Fitzgerald’s only child (his daughter Scottie), and his editor, Max Perkins. Zelda did not attend. Instead of having a Catholic ceremony, Fitzgerald received an impersonal service led by an Episcopal priest who reportedly had no idea who the writer was.

After Zelda’s death in 1948, she was also buried at Rockville Cemetery. Because she had bought only one spot in the cemetery instead of a family plot, her casket was buried in tandem, smack on top of Fitzgerald’s casket.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald grave by JayHenry. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In 1975, 35 years after Fitzgerald died, the Rockville Women’s Club and Rockville Civic Improvement Advisory Commission wanted to beautify the Fitzgeralds' run-down grave and put up a plaque to signify their final resting place. They contacted Scottie, who told them how St. Mary’s Catholic Church had rejected her father’s body back in 1940.

Scottie, along with members of the Rockville Women’s Club, asked the local Catholic Archbishop to reconsider accepting her parents for burial at St. Mary’s. By then, Fitzgerald’s writing had become far more popular and respected than it was when he died. St. Mary’s happily agreed to let F. Scott's and Zelda’s caskets be moved to St. Mary's for burial in the Fitzgerald family plot. Eleven years later, in 1986, Scottie was buried with her parents at St. Mary’s, and their family’s tombstone is inscribed with the last line of The Great Gatsby.


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