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History: Space Services, Inc. of America

On September 9, 1982, Space Services Inc. of America (SSI) – under the direction of Mercury 7 astronaut Donald K. “Deke” Slayton – made history as the first private enterprise to launch a rocket into outer space: Conestoga 1. SSI, under the direction of founder David Hannah, Jr., established the basis for today’s commercial space industry.

SSI, from which Celestis traces its corporate roots, was the first company to:

  • Sign an agreement with NASA for the use of a national launch range – Wallops Island, VA;
  • Receive a contract from NASA for the provision of commercial launch services – Consort 1/Starfire;
  • Develop a commercial land remote sensing venture – Space America; and,
  • File an application with the Federal Communications Commission for a low earth orbit communications satellite constellation – Globesat Express.

In 2001, David Hannah, Jr. was recognized by the Space Business Archives for his contributions to the development of space commerce.

Follow the "Friends of Conestoga 1" on Facebook.


Launch of Conestoga 1, September 9, 1982

Spectators at the launch

David Hannah, Jr, in a recent visit at the White House

Donald K. 'Deke' Slayton,
President of SSI at the
launch control center

David Hannah, Jr, Charles M. Chafer and Vice President George Bush discussing space commercialization

Conestoga 1on the launch pad

Launch preparations

Percheron 1, the predecessor of Conestoga

After the launch-David Hannah, Jr., founder of SSI

Post launch press conference

Mr. and Mrs. Hannah at the launch site

Space Business Archives: Galaxy Awards for Space Commerce

Press coverage: New York Times

Launch logistics schedule

Media coverage: Houston Post
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