FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When you're planning a space funeral for your loved one or yourself, you want to learn as much as possible in advance of the launch for true peace of mind. We've answered the most commonly asked questions here; if there's anything else you'd like to know, just reach out and ask! We're always happy to help.
How much does it cost to send your ashes into space?
You can send ashes into space for just £345.
Sending your ashes into space can cost less than you think. With our Voyager package, you can launch ashes into space for just £345. A ceremonial portion of ashes are flown into space on one of our bespoke spacecraft, returned to Earth and passed into the care of the deceased's loved ones.
Our primary package, the Memorial Launch, uses our unique scattering vessel to release the ashes to travel the world on stratospheric winds. With the Memorial Launch, it costs £2450 to scatter ashes in space.
You can book our services for a departed loved one, or pre-book a launch for yourself.
What's the difference between a space funeral, a space burial and a space scattering?
The terms 'space funeral', 'space burial' and 'space scattering' are used interchangeably to refer to the act of sending ashes into space as a memorial service.
Aura Flights offers a range of space memorial options. The Memorial Launch involves ashes travelling to space and being scattered in space, while the Voyager package offers the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream of going into space while retaining the ashes in a ceremonial urn.
Can I have my ashes sent into space? Can I book this for myself?
If you want to have your own ashes sent into space, Aura Flights can launch them for you once you pass.
The way we talk about death and dying is changing, and increasing numbers of people are thinking ahead about how they want to be remembered after they die. If you want to have your own ashes scattered in space, you can pre-book any of our services today. We'll even help you prepare your family and loved ones so they'll know how to fulfil your wishes when the time comes. Find out more on our pre-booking page
Can you send ashes into orbit?
Putting ashes into orbit would be a very cost-intensive exercise. In addition, it would be highly unsafe. Small fragments of matter travelling at high speed in orbit present a risk to satellites if their movements are not precisely planned, which simply wouldn't be feasible with ashes.
Our flights travel to the region of the stratosphere known as Near Space, which starts at around 63,000 feet above sea level. Here you can see the blackness of space and the curvature of the Earth, and you are above 99.5% of the Earth's atmosphere. Ashes scattered here present no risk to satellites and travel around the globe for weeks or even months before finally returning to Earth as rainfall or snow.
How do you get the ashes?
If the ashes are with your funeral director, we’ll liaise directly to bring them into our care. If you have the ashes with you, we can arrange one of our team to collect them from you personally. Many of our clients wish to keep their loved ones close for as long as possible before the launch, so if you wish, you can pass them into our care personally the day before the launch.
When will the launch take place?
Once we've received your booking, we'll assign a one-week launch window at the next available space in our schedule. We'll let you know the dates of the window, and as it approaches, we'll monitor weather conditions and keep you informed of the likely date. We aim to give at least 24 hours' notice when a launch day is allocated and 24 hours' notice if we have to rearrange due to unexpected changes in weather conditions or an instruction from the airspace regulator.
Can I have the launch on a particular day?
When you make a booking, we'll contact you to discuss the details and you can let us know if you would like the launch to take place on or around a significant date. Our flight paths are largely dependent on weather conditions, so to minimise the risk of a cancellation we allocate a window of two weeks following your preferred launch day.
In many circumstances we can launch on your preferred date, however if circumstances mean we have to launch on another day, the complexities of arranging a launch mean it is impossible for us to reschedule based on your availability.
We aim to provide at least 24 hours' notice of any changes to flight schedule. Unfortunately, we are not currently able to conduct launches on weekends or bank holidays.
Can you launch from a special location?
The Memorial Launch is conducted from our dedicated launch site in Sheffield. If this site is unsuitable for a launch due to adverse conditions, we have a dozen other sites across the UK where we can launch at short notice as an alternative.
These launch sites have been selected because they offer suitable prevailing weather conditions to allow us to launch on as many days as possible. They are also areas where there are minimal other airspace users, meaning we don't have to coordinate with local Air Traffic Control.
It may be possible to launch from other locations, however it takes a substantial amount of time to secure clearances and some sites may only be suitable for launch under very specific stratospheric conditions. If launching from a location of special significance to your loved one is very important to you, please speak to our team directly and we will do all we can to accommodate; this may incur an additional cost.
Can I attend the launch? Do I have to attend the launch?
With a Memorial Launch, you are absolutely welcome to attend the launch day event and bring guests. We ask that you give us a rough idea of numbers when booking the event, so we can make appropriate accommodations, however we know that it can be tricky coordinating large groups if there is some uncertainty about the date. Attendance is not mandatory; if you can’t or don’t wish to attend the launch, we’ll make sure your loved one gets a fitting send-off and endeavour to share the video with you as soon as possible.
We also provide a live video feed of the launch ceremony so that anyone who is unable to attend the launch in person can share in this important moment remotely.
What happens on the day of a Memorial Launch?
By default, we look to release the scattering vessel on its journey into space at around 11am on the launch day, although this may vary slightly depending on conditions on the day. Our team will arrive at the launch site around an hour before launch to unpack equipment, set up the tracking system and prepare to fill the balloon.
Launch guests are encouraged to arrive half an hour before the launch is scheduled. Once everyone is present, the team will begin filling the balloon with the lighter-than-air gas that will lift the scattering vessel into space. Filling usually takes around half an hour. One of our team members will be at your side throughout to explain the process and answer any questions you or your guests may have.
Memorial events like this don’t have a wealth of tradition and protocol behind them. For some families, a launch is a sombre affair; for others, a time for laughter and jokes. Some choose to have music playing, others make speeches and share treasured memories of the departed. However you choose to celebrate, we’re happy to accommodate.
Once the balloon is filled, the team will seal it off and activate the cameras which will capture the flight and the moment of release. After a final systems check, you and your guests can count down and raise a glass as we launch the vessel into the air.
What happens after the scattering vessel is launched? How long does the flight take?
Once the balloon is released, the scattering vessel rises through the atmosphere at a speed of 5-6 metres per second, reaching scattering altitude of 28,000m after around 90 minutes. The vessel gently releases the ashes to fall down into stratospheric winds, and the balloon carries on rising to around 32,000m. As it rises, the difference in pressure causes the balloon to expand, reaching the size of a double decker bus before bursting. The scattering vessel falls back down to Earth, slowed to a safe speed by the parachute, within an hour. The entire flight lasts around 2.5-3 hours, depending on conditions on the day.
How do the Aura Flights team retrieve the results?
When we launch the scattering vessel, our team will let you know what time the release of the ashes will take place. Our team will then set off for the predicted landing site, refining their course as live data from the tracking system makes the prediction more accurate. We aim to be on site when the vessel lands. Because we plan launches for days when the landing site will be remote, it may take some time for our team to retrieve the vessel, however this is usually no longer than an hour. We have never lost a scattering vessel.
Once we have retrieved the scattering mechanism, we aim to send an image of the moment of release as soon as possible. This can be delayed by a number of factors including the time taken to preview the footage to find the appropriate segment, the availability of mobile internet signal in the landing area and the power left in the camera batteries after the flight. If you don’t receive an image by the end of the day, this does not mean there has been an issue and we will contact you as soon as possible the following day with an update.
What happens to the ashes?
High above the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere is incredibly thin. Moments after release, the ashes fall back towards the Earth. As they approach the tropopause (around 10km up), they are picked up by high-moving winds which encircle the globe and carried for weeks or even months, spreading out and travelling across the entire planet. Some of the smallest particles may even travel for years. For this time, your loved one will become one with the atmosphere, joining their essence with the planet’s aura.
Eventually, they will descend to regions where the air is dense and warm enough to contain traces of moisture. In the same way that bubbles form around tiny imperfections in a champagne glass, the ashes will act as nucleation points for moisture to condense from the air. The moisture will form raindrops or snowflakes which will fall to Earth, allowing trace nutrients to rejoin the life cycle. In any one region, the ashes will be undetectable.
What happens to the balloon?
The balloon rises through the atmosphere due to the buoyant gas inside. As altitude increases, the ambient air pressure decreases, causing the balloon to expand many times over. At the peak of the flight, the balloon reaches a diameter equalling the length of a double decker bus before bursting. The balloon is designed to burst from the top and split into thin ribbons which remain attached to the neck of the balloon. When the launch vehicle returns to Earth, the balloon material is collected and disposed of safely. For more information, check out our environmental policy.
What happens to the scattering vessel?
After the balloon bursts, the scattering vessel parachutes back down to Earth. Its position is tracked throughout the flight allowing our team to recover it once it touches down. The vessel is returned to our headquarters, where log files are backed up, the vessel is examined for any damage, and then cleaned and stored for reuse on a future flight.
When will I get my memorial items?
We will send a digital preview of the memorial video for approval within five working days of your launch. Once you have confirmed that you are happy with the edit, we’ll send out a copy on a USB device along with the certificate the following working day.
Can I have additional copies of the certificate/video?
Additional commemorative items, including copies of the certificate and the video, are available on the dedicated listings page.
Do I have to pay all at once?
When you're grieving the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want is additional financial stress. If financing an Aura package is a concern, our partnership with FuneralSafe allows you to pay flexibly over 12 to 48 months. Find out more on their dedicated Aura Flights page.
How do you get the ashes?
When you book a Voyager package, we will send you a kit with a vial and filling equipment. There will also be a sticker for you to fill out with personal details like your name and return address. You or your funeral director can fill the vial with a ceremonial portion and send it back to us in the addressed envelope.
When will the Voyager flight take place?
When you book a place for your loved one on a Voyager flight, we will send out a filling kit so you can send us a ceremonial portion of your loved one’s ashes. Once we receive these, your loved one will be added to the manifest for our next Voyager flight. We conduct at least one of these a month, depending on demand. These flights are scheduled around and alongside our other launches to maximise efficiency. We will let you know at least 72 hours before your launch goes ahead.
Where does the Voyager flight take place?
Voyager flights are conducted from our dedicated launch site in Sheffield. If this site is unsuitable for a launch due to adverse conditions, we have a dozen other sites across the UK where we can launch at short notice as an alternative. The direction of travel after release is determined by atmospheric conditions on the day, which we can predict in advance of the flight. The launch vehicle and all equipment launched will return to Earth within UK borders.
Can I attend the launch?
As Voyager flights are often scheduled at short notice, it is not possible for us to welcome guests on-site, however we will notify all clients when their loved one’s flight is scheduled.
What happens to the balloon?
The balloon is designed to burst from the top and split into thin ribbons which remain attached to the neck of the balloon. When the launch vehicle returns to Earth, the balloon material is collected and disposed of safely. For more information, check out our environmental policy.
When will I receive the ashes after the flight?
We conduct Voyager flights at least once a month, depending on demand. We guarantee that your ashes will be launched within four working weeks of receipt. You will be notified when the launch day is scheduled – usually 72 hours beforehand. We will dispatch the ashes in the miniature urn within 5 working days of the launch.
Is the launch process safe? Is there a danger to satellites, aeroplanes or people on the ground?
In all our launches, safety is our first priority. All our flights are approved by the Civil Aviation Authority and coordinated with local airspace users to avoid any risk to other aircraft. The software we use to predict the flight path is highly accurate, allowing us to plan launches which avoid crossing into any restricted airspace. Hundreds of small weather balloons have been released daily by weather organisations across the world for nearly a century, in which time there has never been a recorded case of a collision between a balloon and another airspace user.
Our flights travel to the region known as Near Space, which starts at around 19km and goes up to 100km, which international law defines as the start of Outer Space for the purpose of record-keeping and treaties. The highest altitude ever reached with a balloon flight is 53km. While a satellite could theoretically orbit at around 100km, almost all are placed into orbit above 500km. As such, there is zero risk of our flights intersecting with the path of a satellite or presenting any risk to satellite operations.
On any given day we can predict where a balloon will travel within a few hundred metres. By selecting suitable launch sites and adjusting gas volume and equipment used, we can ensure that we only launch when the scatter vessel will land in a remote location, far from any built-up areas, major roads or environmental hazards. The parachute guarantees that, in the extremely unlikely event of the scatter vessel hitting a person as it approaches the ground, it would not be moving fast enough to do any physical damage.
Is the launch process environmentally friendly?
We make every effort to limit the environmental impact of our launches. You can find out all about our environmental policy. If you’re concerned about space littering, check out “What happens to the ashes?”
Can I offer this service to my clients?
We work closely with Funeral Directors, grief counsellors, Celebrants and other experts in the funeralcare profession. If you’re interested in offering our services through your business or discussing a collaboration, get in touch by phone at 0114 213 1050 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What promotional materials do you provide?
Our video cards are a convenient and eye-catching way to introduce the idea of a space scattering to a client. We also offer an attractive A5 landscape print booklet explaining how things work for you to read through with potential clients. For your website or social media, we can share images and videos and even integrate your own branding to create personalised assets for your use. If you’re interested in other promotional materials including posters, display items and window transparent vinyls, email our creative team at email@example.com.
How can I find out more about this service?
Any of our team can answer any questions you have by phone or email. For one-to-one meetings, explainer sessions for your team or public speaking events, our director Dr Chris Rose is happy to visit you in person – call 0114 213 1050 to discuss directly.