Will Stratospheric Funerals Make A Killing?

Will Stratospheric Funerals Make A Killing?

A Kentucky-based company hopes to make a killing by offering customers the option of dropping their loved ones' cremated ashes 20 miles above Earth.

The company, Mesoloft, recently started offering a service where a weather balloon takes the cremains to the stratosphere and releases the ashes into the air.

The ashes return to Earth as dust or, possibly, in raindrops or snowflakes. The entire flight is captured for posterity on two GoPro cameras that are attached to the balloon and the payload holding the ashes. The shroud that carries the urn can be kept as a souvenir, according to Mesoloft co-founder Chris Winfield.

The company doesn't perform cremations but it costs $2,800 for the basic package that includes a video of the entire flight.

The $7,500 package allows loved one to travel to one of the company's three areas in Colorado, Indiana and New Mexico to witness the ashes sent into the air.

"Trees are not our friend," Mesoloft co-founder Chris Winfield explained to HuffPost. "We need to do this in big open areas, where we have open access."

Winfield said the balloons and the payloads stay in the air for about two hours and the company ensures they land in a five-mile radius of where they took flight.

The company also has to send out a notice to pilots to make sure planes don't bump into the funeral balloons.

Winfield said he and his two partners have thought about the idea for at least five years, but only recently figured out how to empty the ashes into the atmosphere.

"We did about 10 test flights using ashes -- not the human kind," he said. "At first, we had trouble getting the GoPro cameras to work in extreme conditions. Then it was figuring out the right amount of helium. The last few went off without a hitch so we thought it was time to take it to consumers."

Only two customers have purchased the service but Winfield figures clients will be dying to try it when they learn about how far the ashes theoretically might travel.

"Sand from dust storms in the Sahara desert has been traced in California, so we're confident when we say these ashes might go around the world."

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