More than 100 people will be along for the maiden voyage of privately held Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon I rocket at the end of February. But these passengers won't be coming back. Instead, they -- or at least what's left of them -- plan to remain in orbit until their spacecraft falls back to the Earth.
You see, each of these wannabe space travelers is deceased. Their families have arranged to have their ashes sent into orbit, joining Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991 and subsequently circled the planet for six years. The event is the brainchild of Space Services, which has been offering space burials since 1997 by renting cargo holds on spacecraft and then selling rides to posthumous astronauts for anywhere from $995 to $5,300. It's no different here: The primary mission of Falcon I is to deliver into space a naval communications satellite for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Though prior flights have brought celebrities into space, this one is remarkable for its lack of Earthly star power. Moreover, the assembled group is truly international, featuring passengers from the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, and Russia. As an investor, that's what really gets me excited.
Rule-breaking industries develop when what was thought to be the domain of the privileged becomes accessible to all. For example, computers were once used mainly by scientists -- that is, until Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL ) broke the rules. Satellite anything was the domain of the government -- that is, until DirecTV (NYSE: DTV ) , EchoStar (Nasdaq: DISH ) , Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) , and XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR ) came along. Even first-class air travel was for only the rich until frequent filer programs broke the rules. Then Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU ) decided to go one further and offer live TV in-flight for every passenger. So, are space funerals and space tourism really all that different? I don't think so.
What's become clear to me recently is that the only requirements for rule breaking are foresight and perseverance. The best of the Internet entrepreneurs of the '90s -- such as PayPal founder Elon Musk, who in 2002 sold to eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) for $1.5 billion -- had both of those characteristics in spades. So is it a coincidence that Musk is now heading SpaceX? Of course not.
For related Foolishness:
- Did you hear about Lockheed'sloss in space?
- Can a rocket maker really be a Rule Breaker?
- See how SpaceDevburns rubber.
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Fool contributor TimBeyers has never recovered from his childhood passion for science fiction, but he doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. You can see what Tim's portfolio holds by checking his Fool profile, which is here.