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History: Celestis

A significant “first” for Space Services Inc. of America was its receipt of the first ever “mission approval” from the Office of Commercial Space Transportation (then housed within the U.S. Department of Transportation, today within the Federal Aviation Administration).

The Celestis Group of Melbourne, Florida was licensed in 1984 by OCST to fly a unique payload aboard SSI’s Conestoga vehicle – cremated human remains. While ultimately unable to conduct the launch, the Celestis Group proved that people all over the world sought memorial spaceflights for themselves and their loved ones.

In 1994, former SSI employees Charles M. Chafer and R. Chan Tysor founded a new company, Celestis, Inc., and announced an agreement with Orbital Sciences Corporation to launch cremated human remains as secondary payloads aboard Orbital’s Pegasus ™ and Taurus ™ launch vehicles.

Celestis Inc.’s Founders Flight (April 1997) inaugurated the era of memorial spaceflights and included Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, 1960s icon Dr. Timothy Leary, and Princeton University physicist Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill among the 24 pioneers aboard.

Celestis has accomplished six space missions, including – at NASA’s request – the launch of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker on a memorial flight to the moon. Celestis' most recent launch -- the Legacy Flight -- included legendary Star Trek actor James Doohan ("Scotty"), writer/producer John Meredyth Lucas, Mercury 7 Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, and over 200 others. Celestis flights have honored the lives of people from the US, Japan, Great Britain, Denmark, The Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, China, and Germany.

Launch of Founders Flight, April 21, 1997

New York Times article about the Founder's Flight

Washington Post article about the Founder's Flight

Majel Barrett Roddenberry and Charles Chafer

Ad Astra Flight, February 10, 1998

Lunar Prospector, reached Moon's surface on July 31 1999

Millennial Flight, December 20, 1999

Legacy Flight, April 28, 2007

Capsules are integrated on board the spacecraft

Viewing of the rocket on the launch pad gives families and friends the chance to say one last 'good bye.'

Remembering loved ones during a memorial service
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