Personal Launch

Want to launch your loved one's ashes to space from a site of personal significance? We'll work with you to create the perfect send-off. 

 

Launch sites

We can fly from almost anywhere in the UK for a Personal Launch and we always strive to provide the best service possible. In the majority of cases we are able to launch on your chosen date and from your chosen site, however, we cannot always guarantee that a date or location will be suitable.

There are a few factors which can necessitate a longer launch window. A launch site close to airports or military bases might require us to launch at a certain time of day, or when the flight system will travel away from the area. Similarly, a coastal launch might mean we need to be more flexible with launch dates to avoid losing a payload to the sea.

We have a strong working relationship with the Civil Aviation Authority, who regulate airspace in the UK and advise us on optimal launch sites. If you let us know your requirements, we can investigate a number of sites of your choosing and propose favourable areas nearby if your primary choice presents difficulties.

 Drone image of a Near Space high altitude balloon being inflated on a sandy beach

Launch day

On the morning of the launch, our team will transfer the ashes into our bespoke scattering vessel, which will carry them into space and scatter them in a gentle cascade.

Our team will usually arrive at the launch location at around 10 to 11 am, depending on the location and the time of year. If you would prefer an alternative launch time, please let our team know and we'll do our best to accommodate.

Once at the launch site, the team will set up the tracking system and begin filling the balloon with the lighter-than-air gas used to lift the mechanism into space. Filling should take no more than an hour, during which time some people choose to share stories and treasured memories of the departed.

The team will seal off the balloon 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 as we release the flight system into the air. If desired, we can play music or a recorded message of your choice at the moment of departure.

 A latex meteorological balloon against a blue sky with clouds

The flight

The balloon will rise at a steady rate for 90 minutes. As the external pressure drops, the balloon will expand to over 15 metres in diameter. The flight system will ascend to 100,000 feet and the on-board computer will begin the controlled release of the ashes, all captured on video using our space-optimised cameras.

The ashes will be carried around the world on stratospheric winds, circling the globe for days or even weeks. Eventually, they will cause clouds to form and fall back to Earth as rainfall or snow. Trace nutrients in the ashes will fertilise the earth, supporting the growth of new life wherever they land.

After the scatter has taken place, the balloon will rise faster until it reaches its maximum diameter and bursts. The mechanism will make a controlled descent via parachute. Our team will track the payload throughout the flight, usually recovering the mechanism within minutes of landing. The balloon will break into small penny-sized fragments which will return to the Earth. The balloon is made of undyed natural latex which is nontoxic and degrades at the same rate as an oak leaf, leaving no harmful traces.

Following the flight, our in-house editing team will take the footage from the flight and produce a beautiful memorial video showing the ascent and the scattering, set to music of your choice. We'll also send you a certificate signed by our directors, listing the name, birth and death date of the departed and a personal message, along with the date, time and launch location of the flight.

 Aerial photograph of the Peak District covered in snow with cumulus clouds

Booking and planning

The flight path our system takes is variable depending on stratospheric weather conditions. To minimise the risk of a cancellation, we allocate a 'launch window' of two weeks or more depending on location to each flight, so we can take advantage of the best conditions as they present themselves. We can forecast flight paths with increasing accuracy in the week preceding the launch window and in most circumstances we can launch on your preferred date. We can provide three days' notice of any changes to flight schedule.

The Personal Launch costs from £3095, plus travel. We currently conduct flights on weekdays throughout the year. If you have a preferred launch date, talk to our team. Processing flight permissions for new sites takes time, as such we may need up to six weeks from confirmation to conduct a flight. We accept bookings up to a year in advance. If you have any questions or would like to make a booking, use the 'Talk to our team' button below.

 Ascension Flights manager Dan Blaney looking at a computer screen showing near space flight predictions