Sheer lunacy

“To the moon, Alice.” Those threatening words, from the character Ralph Kramden to his tart-tongued wife in the television series The Honeymooners, may not seem so far-fetched now. Indeed, you may soon be able to send a person, or at least their ashes, to the moon—for a price.

No, I’m not having a lunatic hallucination. A San Diego company will boldly go where no business has gone: to the moon. TransOrbital will use a discount Russian rocket to get up into orbit around the moon and send back pictures. Electronics companies will be able to test out their communication devices, and so we envision: “Hey, you’re really breaking up. Can you hear me now?”

But that’s not all. Apparently the free-enterprise system also is breaking boundaries. You can participate in the mission personally this coming October by buying space in the capsule for your business messages. That’s right, intergalactic advertising has begun. The company will allow you to send business cards, personal messages and mementos to the moon. At the end of the flight, the Trailblazer capsule will crash into the moon and leave your messages in the lunar dust. It’s a new form of outdoor advertising—way outdoors. Or is it littering?

Inert materials, such as ashes, will cost $2,500 a gram. The company reportedly has “thousands” of orders to deliver jewelry and remains; it seems many people want to be able to look skyward and see their loved ones on a nightly basis.

There’s a Sacramento company going skyward, defying the odds by competing with the government and other companies in a private-enterprise space race (see “Never mind NASA”). They’re part of an alternative space movement in which enthusiasts and entrepreneurs are finding less expensive ways to get us closer to the stars. Don’t bet against them.