Requiem

| March 27, 2008

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he long’d to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

— Robert Louis Stevenson

I first read that poem, “Requiem”, in the Robert Heinlein story by the same name. It is perhaps the most poignant of Heinlein’s short stories, because it tells the tale of Delos D. Harriman, the man who (in Heinlein’s Future History timeline) largely made commercial space travel possible — but was barred from going into space himself due to government health regulations. He finally cajoles and bribes a couple of down-on-their-luck space pilots to take him to the moon. Liftoff does indeed do irreparable damage to Harriman, but he lives long enough to make it to the moon and go out on the surface in a space suit. This poem is scrawled on a tag attached to his oxygen tank, and he is left to gaze up at the earth forever.

Now comes word that a company plans to transport human ashes to the moon:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The moon could become a final resting place for some of mankind thanks to a commercial service that hopes to send human ashes to the lunar surface on robotic landers, the company said on Thursday.
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Celestis, Inc., a company that pioneered the sending of cremated remains into suborbital space on rockets, said it would start a service to the surface of the moon that could begin as early as next year.

The cost starts at $10,000 for a small quantity of ashes from one person.

Celestis president Charles Chafer said his company reached an agreement with Odyssey Moon Ltd. and Astrobotic Technology Inc., to attach capsules containing cremated remains onto robotic lunar landers.

Odyssey Moon and Astrobotic are among private enterprises seeking to land a robotic craft on the moon and conduct scientific experiments. The cremation capsules would remain on the moon with the lunar landers when the missions were complete.

Chafer said he expected about 1,000 capsules containing ashes to be launched on the first lunar mission, expected in late 2009 or early 2010, and about 5,000 on future flights.

Neat. ..bruce w..

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Category: Main, Poetry, Space

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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