Falcon Heavy taking ashes into space
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - There's about two dozen payloads going up with Monday’s planned launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket and there's one that will be deeply personal to hundreds of people gathered to watch the launch.
One is carrying the ashes of their loved one - Dr. Joel Piehl, a Los Angeles dentist.
He passed away in November 2017.
Joel was a lifelong space enthusiast, and after he died, his son, Zach, found a unique way to honor his memory.
“Once he unfortunately passed away, a year and a half ago, I knew I had to figure out a way to get him to space,” Zach Piehl said.
Piehl and his mother, Sarah, worked with company Celestis to send Joel’s ashes into orbit.
“We know we have a window of 7-25 years that he'll be circling the Earth and it just blows everyone away. It's amazing!” Sarah Piehl said.
Celestis’ founder, Charles Chafer said the remains of 151 people and one dog would be on this Falcon Heavy.
“This will be our 16th memorial spaceflight service. We've flown from all over the world, from Earth orbit, sub-orbital,” he said. “We've been to the moon once. We're ready to go again next year.”
They're holding a memorial service in Cape Canaveral with the families of those on board.
The Piehls said if their husband and father had the chance, this is something he would have planned for himself.
“This is exactly what he would've chosen for himself - is to go to space!” Zach Piehl said.
Families took a tour of the Kennedy Space Center and planned to watch the launch from nearby Jetty Park.
Celestis space funerals start at around $2,500.