Many individuals and families choose a standard method of final disposition after cremation: burial, return to an urn, scattering, and cremation keepsakes. Others looking for a more unique final disposition have chosen to have cremated remains turned into art pieces or diamonds, shot into the sky in a fireworks display, or shot into space. Now, a company called Mesoloft has added another option to the list: turning your loved one’s ashes into precipitation.

Mesoloft makes it possible for families to launch cremated remains 17 miles in the air, into a part of our stratosphere known as “near space.” Speaking to CNET, Mesoloft co-founder Chris Winfield said that the ashes will circumnavigate the earth before eventually descending and turning into precipitation: “Moisture adheres to ashes that pass through clouds and the ash will form the nucleus of a raindrop or snowflake. I love the story, it’s so poetic!”

How Does It Work?

How does this method of final disposition actually work? It’s simpler than you think. A container holding the cremated remains is attached to a weather balloon and released. Once the vessel reaches a certain altitude, the remains are scattered via a GPS trigger that opens a trap door on the container. Two GoPro cameras mounted to the balloon allow family members and friends to watch the near-space journey of their loved one’s remains. Mesoloft adheres to regulations set by the FAA, including one that prohibits the release of cremated remains near airports.

Is It Safe?

According to the EPA, scattering ashes at land, sea, or in the stratosphere is safe for the environment. Because the process is heat-based, cremated remains are sterile and pose no threat to the surrounding environment.

Other Options

Mesoloft is the first company to offer launching cremated remains into near space, but there are other final frontier options on the market. Houston-based company Celestis offers to launch remains into orbit or to the moon. In fact, it just held it’s 13th launch of cremated remains at New Mexico’s Spaceport America. The ashes of Hallie Twomey’s 20-year-old son C.J. were on the flight. Mesoloft, meanwhile, has sent the remains of deceased couple John and Lois Lafferty into the stratosphere.

As cremation becomes more popular across North America, more companies are recognizing the growing desire for unique and personal memorialization options. In the near future, there may be even more options available for final disposition. Thanks to the simplicity and flexibility of cremation, the realm of possibilities is endless. The final frontier, it appears, is just the beginning.