The successful launch of The Ad Astra Flight -- the second Celestis Earth Orbit Service mission -- occurred Tuesday February 10, 1998 at 5:21 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Over two dozen participants were on board, among them ABC News reporter Stephen Gauvain and T. Stephen Cheston, a pioneer in academic and commercial space endeavors.
Ad Astra was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on an Orbital Sciences Corporation Taurus rocket with primary payloads including the US Navy Geosat Follow On spacecraft and two ORBCOMM communications satellites. The rocket placed the Celestis 03 spacecraft into a near polar orbit of approximately 500 miles with an estimated orbital lifetime of 240 years.
The spacecraft (designated as "CELESTIS 03/TAURUS R/B") is still on orbit and can be tracked here.
The Ad Astra Flight – Celestis joined the Orbital Sciences mission patch for our second Earth Orbit mission, with the US Navy’s Geo-tail Follow On (GFO) satellite as the primary payload. The pictured GFO satellite used radar to measure ocean wave behavior and polar ice deposits. The Taurus rocket Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site is also depicted.
Celestis provides an easy-to-use tracking tool that lets family and friends track the mission's progress as the Celestis satellite orbits the Earth or makes its way into deep space.
Create and plan additional remembrances and celebrations as the spacecraft orbits overhead or reaches key locations.