22:29 GMT26 October 2020
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    Pikachu, a much-loved tabby housecat, died in January 2019 following a long "valiant battle" with feline diabetes. Now, his family will pay tribute to his memory by blasting his ashes into Earth's orbit.

    Steve Munt, Pikachu's owner, told Space.com recently that Pikachu's cremated ashes will be shot into space as a small secondary payload on a satellite launch within the next 18 months. The family is using services provided by Celestis, a Texas-based company that offers affordable memorial spaceflights for both animals and humans.

    ​"I have already signed the contract and just recently paid in full for the service," Munt, who launched a GoFundMe page shortly after Pika's passing to collect donations for the service, told the outlet.

    Although Munt has managed to raise a little more than $1,600 of the $5,000 goal with the fundraising campaign, he went ahead and pulled the remaining funds from his savings in order to secure Pikachu a journey to the heavens.

    "While I continue to accept donations for those who wish to be a part of this tribute, fundraising is not a primary goal for me. My dream is coming true, regardless of any additional donations, and I am currently awaiting an assigned slot on a future launch," Munt explained.

    The owner indicated that he chose to send his friend off into space because "Pikachu is a hero, and I am honoring him as such."

    Pikachu will be the first cremated cat to be blasted into space by the company since it began providing the service in 2014. Celestis previously transported the remains of two dogs, Apollo, a blue merle Australian Shepherd, and Laika, a Shiba Inu, into space.

    "I wanted Pikachu to be the first [cat]," Munt said. "[To] continue his legacy as an explorer and show the world that a cat is just as worthy as a dog of a special tribute."

    The Celestis Pets page notes that the Earth Orbit service costs nearly $5,000.

    "Your special friend will venture into the final frontier as part of a real space mission, riding alongside a commercial or scientific satellite," the page reads. "The Celestis spacecraft is placed in Earth orbit where it remains until it reenters the atmosphere, harmlessly vaporizing like a shooting star in final tribute."

    Prices for the company's launch services can range between $2,495 to a whopping $12,500. It all depends on whether interested persons want the remains to experience zero gravity before being returned to the mourning family or be sent out into deep space for a "permanent celestial journey."


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    orbit, Earth, Space, ashes, Cat, Pikachu, Celestis, US
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