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SpaceX Falcon Heavy to launch ashes of an all-star, astronaut and others

The first nighttime launch of the big rocket will also be a celestial funeral of sorts.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy sits on the launchpad in Florida.

When Elon Musk's huge Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off for just the third time Monday evening, it will be carrying the remains of over 100 earthlings to orbit.Spaceflight memorial company Celestis is sending individual canisters containing the cremated remains of its clients into space, where they will orbit our planet until their cosmic urns eventually re-enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up just like a shooting star. 

Dubbed the Heritage Flight, the cremains are hosted by the General Atomics Orbital Test Bed, which is just one of 24 satellites set to launch atop Falcon Heavy from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. 

An engineer secures capsules containing remains into the vessel that will carry them to orbit. 


Celestis has been sending loved ones to the beyond for over two decades, even offering a similar service for beloved pets.

Among the individuals to be memorialized this week is Bill Pogue, a NASA astronaut who was on the support crew for the historic Apollo 11 moon landing mission in 1969. Pogue later spent 84 days aboard the Skylab space station, setting spaceflight endurance and distance records at the time. 

Also on the Heritage Flight is Masaru Tomita, who was a two-time all star player in Japan's Nippon Pro Baseball league, and Marj Kreuger, who worked for NASA in the 1960s and published both science fiction and technical science papers, including one about the use of nuclear power in space. 

Memorial biographies for over 120 of the people aboard the flight are available online, and they're pretty fascinating reads. 

You can watch the launch online, which is set for no earlier than 11:30 p.m. EDT Monday night. But for some more perspective on its most emotional payload, you can also watch the livestream of the Heritage Flight Memorial Service below, which begins at 2:50 p.m. EDT Monday.