What formula could be used to describe the minimums required for an unprotected human body to burn up completely in reentry to Earth's gravity well?

As a hypothetical, a burial of the deceased in orbit, who's last wish was to be cremated in such a way, say from the ISS.

Second hypothetical; an Earth company that wanted to offer reentry cremation for the deceased. What would be the minimum requirements (the least expensive) to fulfill the contract?


Build a 20-ton orbital corpse deployment pod carrying 75 bodies, able to eject them one at a time into a reentry trajectory. Each body is in an individual shroud, constructed and weighted in such a way to optimize incineration (e.g. streamlined to avoid decelerating too early in the reentry).

Launch it on a Falcon 9.

If you charge US\$2 million per body you bring in \$150M revenue per mission. Launch costs \$62M, deployment pod costs \$3M. Assume that permits, lawsuits, mission operations, recording the deployments and distributing videos to the families, etc. eat another \$10M, and you're left with \$75M profit.

  • $\begingroup$ Much harder to launch them one at a time, as it would involve delta v. Much easier to put the bodies in a faring, lunch into a sub-orbital (non-circularized) trajectory, then separate the bodies using "decouplers". The result would be MIRV style reentry. $\endgroup$ – Aron Jun 1 '16 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ I think you can monetize the ceremonial aspect of doing them one at a time. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Jun 1 '16 at 14:23

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