Memorial Spaceflights

Countdown to Luna 02

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“This is so important to us. It brings a little closure, in a way, to our feelings. We will always know when we look at the Moon, that Gene is there.”

Dr. Carolyn Shoemaker on the occasion of the completion of the Celestis Luna 01 memorial spaceflight mission, 1999.

In 1998 NASA reached out to Celestis, seeking our assistance to honor Dr. Eugene Shoemaker – the eminent scientist who trained Apollo astronauts – by making him the first person to have his cremated remains scattered on the lunar surface at the conclusion of NASA’s Lunar Prospector mission.

Dr. Eugene Shoemaker

Planetary geologist Eugene Shoemaker, the participant on board the Celestis Luna 01 mission. Image credit: NASA

Today, Celestis – still the only company to have conducted a successful memorial spaceflight service, with 14 missions to date – is rapidly approaching the launch of our second Luna Memorial Spaceflight. Luna 02 will be a payload aboard the first mission of Moon Express – the MX-1E Lander, scheduled for launch in Q1 2018.

For as long as humans have existed on Earth, the Moon has beckoned to us in the night sky. For many, the notion of reaching the Moon – even symbolically – is a continuing dream. Ultimately, the opportunity of a lunar memorial service is both an appropriate and uniquely compelling final journey for oneself or for a loved one.

MoonEx MX-1E Lander on the Moon

Artist’s rendering of the MoonEx MX-1E Lander on the Moon. Image Credit: MoonEx

Last year Celestis announced the selection of Moon Express as the host spacecraft for Luna 02. At the time of our selection Moon Express had just announced that it received the first – and to date only – approval by the United States to launch a non-governmental mission to the Moon.

“We’re thrilled to sign an exclusive agreement with Celestis for their Luna 02 mission,” said Moon Express co-founder & CEO, Bob Richards. “The Moon is a part of human culture, and our partnership with Celestis will help connect people to the Moon on an even more personal level.”

Now, just as NASA entrusted Celestis with Dr. Shoemaker’s final lunar memorial spaceflight, people from all over the world are securing reservations to honor a loved one aboard the Celestis Luna 02 memorial spaceflight.

Imagine attending launch activities at the Moon Express Mission Control Center at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – participating in astronaut-led briefings, watching a live feed from the launch pad in New Zealand, and joining a memorial service honoring those on board.

Mission Control

Mission Control. Image Credit: NASA

Once the spacecraft is in Earth orbit following launch, family members, friends, and the global public will follow the progress of the Luna 02 spacecraft on its 4-day journey to the moon at www.Celestis.com and in the international media covering this historic private mission to the Moon.

While Luna 02 orbits and throughout the mission timeline, remind yourself that, “This is real, Celestis has made it happen – can there be a more fitting memorial for my loved one?”

Be one of the few on Earth who can gaze upon the Moon and know that you’ve provided the ultimate final journey and resting place for someone very special.

The Moon through the trees

Luna 02 is on track for launch. The pace is quickening, flight tests are underway, and we are in a countdown.

Moon Express has three launches under contract with Rocket Lab – the US/New Zealand company conducting flight operations from New Zealand’s North Island. Rocket Lab recently launched the first test of its Electron rocket – the vehicle which will launch Moon Express and Luna 02. Two additional test flights are scheduled for Summer 2017.

Video of Rocket Lab’s recent test launch of its Electron rocket

Once the tests of Electron are completed, MX-1E and Luna 02 will have cleared the final hurdle before setting a launch date. Moon Express hopes to capture the $20 million Google Lunar X Prize competition, but as recently, discussed in Popular Mechanics, Moon Express is focused on the much larger goal of commercial lunar development.

Todd Hawley

In the early 1980s, a trio of students began working together with a common goal of opening the space frontier. One of those students, Todd Hawley (pictured here), passed away early and was a participant on the Celestis Founders Flight – the first private memorial spaceflight. Another, Peter Diamandis, founded the XPrize Foundation, now operating the Google Lunar X Prize. The remaining member, Bob Richards, is the CoFounder and CEO of Moon Express. The Celestis family of supporters, clients, and friends worldwide includes many such connections. When you choose Celestis to provide a memorial spaceflight service for yourself or a loved one, you join a family committed to continuing the human adventure of space.

Celestis friends and family will gather at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Moon Express Mission Control soon – and a few hardy souls will make the trek to New Zealand to view the launch live. Reservations are still open for this historic mission. Please consider honoring a loved one aboard Luna 02.

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