Ashes of cat named Pikachu to be launched into space

A space memorial company plans to launch the ashes of "Pikachu," a well-loved Tabby, into space.

  • Steve Munt, Pikachu's owner, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the mission.
  • If all goes according to plan, Pikachu will be the second cat to enter space, the first being a French feline named Felicette.
  • It might seem frivolous, but the cat-lovers commenting on Munt's GoFundMe page would likely disagree.

A recently deceased cat named Pikachu is about to boldly go where only one other cat has gone before: space.

Steve Munt, Pikachu's owner, wants to scatter his pet's remains in space to give him a "send-off like no cat has ever had before," he told Space.com. To execute the mission, Munt has agreed to pay $5,000 for a company called Celestis to load a few grams of his cat's remains onto a rocket (whose primary mission is to launch a satellite into orbit) and release them once in space. Why?

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

There's a simpler reason, too, one maybe only cat-lovers will understand.

"Pikachu is a hero, and I am honoring him as such," Munt said.

Munt has started a GoFundMe page for the mission, which has so far raised about $1,600 of its goal.

"A portion of his remains, from his heart, will be launched into orbit, where he will watch over the Earth, and we can track his location as he showers the world with love," Munt wrote on the page. "Pikachu was the best. We will always look up to him, and he will remain in our hearts forever. Together, we can all make him proud."

If all goes according to plan, Pikachu will become the second cat to enter space. The first, a French stray named Félicette, launched in 1963 aboard the Véronique AG1 rocket, and later safely parachuted back to Earth. The space cat received international media attention, and was even featured on stamp collections.

Munt wants to aims to give Pikachu a similarly adventurous send-off.

"Pikachu was an explorer and found us through his neighborhood explorations," Munt told Space.com, adding that he adopted the cat after thinking it was a stray. "The next day, I got a phone call from someone wanting to know why their cat came home with a collar. Long story, but Pikachu chose to live with us, and his previous owner accepted that choice."

Celestis has already launched the remains of two dogs into space, and the company offers a variety of space-flight memorial services for animals and humans, including one that sends "a symbolic portion of cremated remains or a DNA sample into deep space, leaving the Earth-Moon system on an infinite journey," according to the company's website.

Spending thousands of dollars on out-of-this-world memorials may seem a bit pointless, or unrelated to the primary aims of science. But for some animal-lovers, the cosmic send-off touches on the intersection of science and humanity, showing how technology can be used to honor the animals who've been valued companions to them over the years. You can see this in the comments on Munt's GoFundMe page:

Alley wrote: "I am so proud to be able to witness such a historic event!!! What a great time to be alive!!! I love Pikachu!!!"

Laura Hasselbacher wrote: "I don't have a lot to donate, but I want to be a part of this unique tribute to a very special cat. Love, Laura and Teddy"

Tracey Millison wrote: "Godspeed Pikachu."

The publicity of the memorial could also help Munt raise money for another one of his cats, Zee, who was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and requires expensive medical procedures, and who has a Twitter account with more than 12,000 followers.

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