Immemorial cultures all across the surface of the Earth have seen a face in the side of the Moon facing us. Curiosity getting the better of us, all sorts of legends and fables have been written about who the man in the Moon is and how he got there.
The first man on the Moon, however, was Neil Armstrong in 1969. He, along with the other astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission explored the lunar surface and collected sample to bring back to Earth. These samples were of particular interest to the man who would eventually end up interred on the Moon.
The first moon burial was that of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, a portion of whose cremated remains were flown to the Moon by NASA.
Eugene Merle (Gene) Shoemaker was an American geologist and one of the founders of the field of planetary science. He co-discovered Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 with his wife Carolyn S. Shoemaker and David H. Levy. This comet hit Jupiter in July 1994: the impact was televised around the world. Shoemaker also studied terrestrial craters, such as Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona, and along with Edward Chao provided the first conclusive evidence of its origin as an impact crater. He was also the first director of the United States Geological Survey's Astrogeology Research Program.
His fascinating life came to an abrupt end on July 18, 1997, when he died in a car crash while exploring a meteor crater in Australia. But even in death, as it turned out, his journey was far from over.
Eventually, Shoemaker’s ashes were sealed in a metal cylinder and sent to the Moon. His wife, Carolyn, who had made many discoveries alongside her husband had an image of the Hale-Bopp comet inscribed on the outside, along with a quote from Romeo and Juliet:
And, when he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Since his ashes were interred on the Moon, Shoemaker has remained the only person ever buried on an extraterrestrial surface. Though many companies have offered space burials inspired by science fiction shows like Star Trek, most of these capsules are launched into low Earth orbit. These ashes end up falling into the atmosphere soon after and burn up. Elysium Space, however, wants to send people’s ashes all the way to the Moon, so that they’ll stay in space. The asking price is around ten thousand dollars, which actually matches the average cost of a normal funeral in the United States.