Humans often fantasize about the best way to leave behind a legacy. Now, a new startup called LifeShip will send your DNA to the moon for just $99. Yes, it will even be preserved in artificial amber in true “Jurassic Park” fashion.
While the concept is pretty cool, it also raises some interesting questions. For example, should humans really be spreading the DNA of random strangers around the solar system? Meanwhile, others see it as a way to ensure that humanity will persist even if some sort of extinction-level event occurs on Earth.
To Infinity (and the Moon)
For those with $35 million to $150 million in disposable income lying around, the possibility of taking a trip to the moon’s orbit is quickly approaching. Meanwhile, NASA announced that it will soon allow tourists aboard the ISS for a vacation stay.
However, most people can only dream of that sort of experience. Now, LifeShip is taking advantage of those dreams and hoping to turn a profit in true startup fashion.
Beginning this fall, the company will be offering a Kickstarter campaign that features $99 saliva collection kits. From there, LifeShip will extract consumers’ DNA from the samples and preserve the nucleotides in artificial amber. After all, if “Jurassic Park” isn’t proof that amber is perfect for preserving DNA, what is?
The company’s founder Ben Haldeman says, “You provide a saliva sample and then we take your DNA, your source code, and preserve it up in space for eternity.”
Humanity’s assortment of spit will eventually travel to the moon via an Arch Mission launch. For those that aren’t familiar, Arch Mission aims to send archives of humanity into every reach of the universe. If the name does sound familiar, that’s probably because it recently spilled thousands of tardigrades across the moon’s surface aboard a crashed Israeli lunar lander.
With fears of climate change growing worldwide, people are eager to preserve a copy of themselves somewhere other than Earth. LifeShip will give them peace of mind that their genetic makeup will live on should tragedy befall the planet.
Of course, it’s impossible to say how long that sample will last on the moon. Haldeman told IEEE Spectrum that, “We [LifeShip] can’t guarantee a million years on the Moon but it should be up there for a while. It’s about archiving life and saving for the future but also the wonder of traveling into space and what could happen with this DNA in the future.”
As for the ethics of sending human DNA into the stars, it’s probably too late to be thinking of that. Between bags of feces on the moon from the Apollo missions to tardigrades now being present on its surface, humans have already contaminated the lunar body. With Mars in the sights of NASA and SpaceX, it’s likely only a matter of time before the red planet also meets human DNA for the first time.