The issue of dealing with death in space is complex and as a result NASA considered vibrating bodies into dust during missions.
Movies have taught us that getting rid of a body in space is as easy as opening a hatch and releasing it into the great unknown where it will float around forever. Unfortunately, in real life, certain procedures have to be followed and this has led to some dark research.
The United Nations have made it illegal to dump bodies into space, as they could collide with spacecraft. On the back of this, NASA has looked into some experimental ways of decomposing bodies which included vibrating a corpse until it turns to dust.
An ecological burial company called Promessa pitched the ‘Body Back’ with a team from NASA. The body would first be removed from the sight of the crew and put in conditions that would stop it from polluting the air. To do this the team suggested putting the body in a Gore-Tex bag which is essentially an air-sealed body bag. However, this is when the pitch takes a bit of a strange turn.
The team proposed promession as a method of getting rid of bodies. The ecological burial technique freeze-dries corpses before vibrating them into dust. This dust would then be used to fertilise the ground.
Some critics didn’t believe that a body could be ground to dust in such a way. Nonetheless, NASA was still interested in the idea and the team managed to divide a plan. The corpse would be frozen in the vacuum of space why a robotic arm would vibrate it into a fine powder. Despite the unique idea, a myriad of factors prevented it from becoming a reality.
The progress of the research came to an end when Promessa was liquidated. As of 2013, the idea that was intended for emergencies on voyages to Mars has been abandoned. This was partly because no human missions to the planet were planned for the foreseeable future.
While the idea of being frozen in space and ground to dust is pretty a grim prospect, it is still an important topic. Particularly, as Elon Musk warns of fatalities in SpaceX’s first missions to space. With this in mind, the bizarre technology could be revisited, although some would prefer being simply blasted into space.