Why Journalist Swapna Krishna Won’t Be “Buried” in Outer Space
The death industry is booming. The options are seemingly endless: you can purchase a plot of land in a cemetery somewhere; you can be devoured by mushrooms and reincorporated into the ground; you can even have your cremains launched into deep space.
Like most things related to the cosmos, it’s rather poetic — ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust. Some people, however, aren’t sold on celestial interment. One person who is skeptical of the hype is space journalist Swapna Krishna, guest on the fifth episode of I Need My Space, Inverse’s podcast about all things extraterrestrial.
Speaking to host Rae Paoletta, Krishna talks about the fine line between launching stuff into space because it’s cool and being a responsible steward of the galaxy. On the one hand, events like Elon Musk’s Starman launch are awesome spectacles that inspire people to learn more about the universe. On the other hand, it’s basically cosmic littering, and Musk’s Roadster could infect other celestial objects with Earth’s bacteria.
“I’m torn here because yes, I want my remains shot into space, 100 percent,” Krishna says. “But I don’t think it’s necessarily the best idea.”
Krishna says that if the cremated remains are burning up in the atmosphere, it’s probably okay. Memorial spaceflights company Celestis, for example, says that its service doesn’t create space debris, as all of its low-orbit missions end with the incineration of the spacecraft during reentry. However, Celestis also conducts missions to put remains on the moon and into deep space, so it seems that some detritus is inevitable.
Krishna’s main concern is that if we keep catapulting things into space willy-nilly, we’ll eventually be surrounded by a landfill of our own making. It could end up sort of like Saturn’s rings, but instead of ice, it would be made of your Uncle Gary’s cremated remains.
What a time to (no longer) be alive.