SpaceX Falcon Heavy Is Set To Launch Wild Stuff Into Orbit Including Human Remains
SpaceX has been very busy. In April it launched the second Falcon Heavy mission to push the Arabsat 6A satellite into orbit. In May another rocket sent 60 SpaceX Starlink microsatellites into orbit. And SpaceX is set to launch its next Falcon Heavy mission soon, and this one will be carrying a wide range of payloads. The mission is called Space Test Program-2 and is set to lift off between 11:30 p.m. ET on June 24 and 2:30 a.m. June 25 depending on the weather.
The oddest thing that the Falcon Heavy will be pushing into orbit is for a company called Celestis. Celestis makes arrangements for cremated remains of deceased loved ones to be sent into space. Families can decide to send capsules with between 1 gram and 7 grams of ashes into orbit. There are 152 capsules glued inside a flat metal sleeve; the sleeve is bolted to the upper deck of the Orbital Test Bed satellite that holds the NASA Deep Space Atomic Clock. It costs around $5,000 to send remains into orbit.
This next SpaceX mission will put 24 satellites into orbit along with the human remains. Elon Musk has said that this launch is SpaceX's most difficult mission yet and the reason is the various payloads on the rocket. The array of satellites require different orbits to operate, and the spacecraft has to make multiple engine burns. One of the satellites for a NASA mission that will put the Deep Space Atomic Clock into orbit.
Another satellite holds the Planetary Society's LightSail that could change how spacecraft propel themselves through deep space. NASA also has the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) launching on the Falcon Heavy rocket. GPIM is a new type of propellant that was developed for the USAF meant to serve as an alternative to hydrazine, which is the current fuel used by most satellites.
Hydrazine requires all manner of complex handling and storage precautions and gives off toxic fumes. The new green propellant is called hydroxylammonium nitrate and produces no toxic fumes. The fuel is safe enough that you could have a jar of it on your desk and not smell anything.