Getting off the rock

The indefatigable Tom Walkinshaw, to whose market  survey many readers of the blog contributed, is coming closer to realising his dream of launching ashes into space. He has given up the day job in order to make it happen. 

He already has a prototype of the satellite that would carry the ashes. It is about the size of a Rubik’s Cube and would hold the ashes of around 40 people. The satellite would be attached to a commercial rocket and launched in the US.

The satellite would then either burn up in space or return to Earth, meaning there would be no space junk or environmental impact. Alba Orbital would also offer a memorial service before the launch and a chance to watch the launch on the internet.

Says Tom:

“There’s an opportunity now in Scotland to be a world leader in small satellites and we want to give it a go.”

More here

Crowdsourcing a Space-Age Distribution Strategy

Posted by Tom Walkinshaw

Ed’s note: Tom is an enterprising fellow who has a plan to launch ashes into Space – Space burial, he calls it. He needs your help and expertise to get it off the ground, which is why he crowdsourcing on the blog this morning at our invitation. 

Alba Orbital are now a few steps down the start-up path. We have done a lot of research both online and out in the real world with only one more presentation to go. The journey has been exciting and rewarding (last week I had dinner with Apollo 12 Command module pilot Dick Gordon) but we have reached a crossroads. How do we distribute our service to the masses?

We want to take ashes where not many ashes have before… Space. For the record I do know it sounds crazy and people often wonder why I think it makes sense to do something so left of field. My opinion is that it is being done successfully currently in the USA, so why can’t the UK do it? It is up to people’s personal choice, but it is a choice we must all make. Cremation is now being chosen by 75% of Brits with that number on the rise year-on-year. We want to offer a solution to the Ashes Dilemma.

Things have gone well and we are in talks with a few Universities around collaborating on our first satellite. We have been supported by the Princes Trust who aim to help young people start-up in Business (I am still only 22). We have done well in a National Spin-out competition the ‘Converge Challenge’ and are the first company to incorporate ourselves.

So the challenge we now face is how do we reach our customers? How do we bring an innovative product to a traditional marketplace? We don’t have the answers. We have ideas and that is why we are putting it out to the Good Funeral Guide readership for their opinions on the matter. 420,000 people get cremated each year and none of them know we even exist.

We think a pre-planning option makes a lot sense, staggering the costs and is less of a knee jerk buying decision. For point of use do we partner with Funeral Directors? Would they take us seriously? We would love to know your thoughts. Online is a key tool for all business, but should we invest in allowing our service to be purchased on the web?

There are no dates in our diary for launching our pricing option, we want to do it right rather than do it fast. Any opinion positive/negative is always welcome. Thank you for reading.

Tom Walkinshaw
MD, Alba Orbital

Website: Twitter: @albaorbital Email:

Can you help?

Space burial is about sending a portion of cremation ashes into space, then releasing them so that they can orbit the Earth. 

Up in Glasgow, Tom Walkinshaw is developing his own space burial programme. It’s ambitious stuff. He’s won an award from Glasgow Caledonian University and he has the support of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust.

Tom is carrying out a survey to find out more about what people want, and he has appealed to the readers of the GFG to tell him what they think.

We very much hope you’ll help him out. You can do that by going over to the survey — it’s very short — here

Find Tom’s website here

Thank you!