"Today we truly inaugurated the Earthview service. 24
pioneers left the Earth from Spanish soil for the new frontier
of space. How appropriate that these modern explorers begin their
journey from the departure point of the explorers of the new world
over five hundred years ago....
We honor all the families who participated in The Founders
Flight. Their perseverance has been rewarded - beginning
today a fitting memorial to their loved ones will orbit over head
every ninety minutes, and we'll always remember them".
Charles Chafer, Co-Founder
Celestis Earthview 01 launch press release
April 21, 1997, Canary Islands, Spain
The world's first private memorial spaceflight occurred on April
21, 1997. The air-launched Pegasus rocket carrying the flight capsules
of Gene Roddenberry, Timothy Leary, Gerard O'Neill, Krafft Ehricke
and 20 others deployed over the Canary
Islands as it propelled the Celestis spacecraft into orbit.
here to see a flight trajectory diagram.) The individual flight
capsules remained within the Celestis spacecraft throughout its
orbit and re-entered the atmosphere May 20, 2002 northeast of Australia.
here to read more about the reentry.)
At 6:00 a.m. Central Standard Time, 1:00 p.m. Madrid time, the
Orbital Sciences Corporation Stargazer aircraft took off from the
Canary Islands, Spain, carrying the Pegasus launch vehicle with
the Celestis payload. After carrying the Pegasus XL booster to an
altitude of approximately 38,000 feet, the Stargazer released the
winged rocket for a five-second free fall before the main engine
ignited, powering the three-stage solid fuel vehicle into low Earth
First stage ignition occurred at 7:00 a.m. Central Standard Time,
2:00 p.m. Madrid time.
The following were the satellite's orbital parameters:
Apogee: 578.7 km (361.7 miles)
Perigee: 551.0 km (344.4 miles)
Orbital Period: 96.0 minutes
15 revolutions per day
Inclination: 151 degrees
Reentry occurred May 20, 2002.