After you die, would you like to roam space for eternity? For just under $3,000, this far-out option may just be within reach. For The Baffler, Dolly Church explores afterlife possibilities and cutting-edge disposition options at the intersection of the funeral and aerospace industries. Through companies like Beyond Burials, Celestis, and Elysium Space, customers can send a small amount of their cremains into space, while their loved ones can opt into a selection of customized packages and memorial events to celebrate the departed. (One company, Celestis, has also expanded into the business of launching DNA into space for “storage and preservation.”) Church asks: “Why be landfill when you can be stardust (or rather, orbiting space debris) instead?

Space, presumed to be a void, becomes a convenient landscape upon which desires for eternal life can be projected and feelings of loss can be negated. This impulse to prolong our existence in the cosmos—whether alive or through a space burial—speaks to the anxieties of living on a dying planet. Looking above for answers, however, might be more analogous to burying one’s head in the sand; to romanticize the deathlessness of space is to ignore its lifelessness too.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.