Memorial Spaceflights

Founders Flight

The first Celestis memorial spaceflight opened the space frontier for all of us.

About The Founders Flight

A mission of purpose, a dream fulfilled.

Launch Experience

Witness the power and grandeur of a launch into space.

Honored Participants

Read about the participants aboard the Founders Flight.


Hear first hand impressions from Celestis launch guests.

Chase view of Pegasus rocket being dropped from carrier.

About the Founders Flight

"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 overhead 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. The individual flight capsules remained within the Celestis spacecraft throughout its orbit and re-entered the atmosphere May 20, 2002 northeast of Australia.

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 orbit.

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

Earth Orbit Service #1

Celestis Memorial Spaceflight: #1
Mission Name: Founders Flight
Launch Location: Canary Islands, Spain
Launch Date: April 21, 1997

Honored Participants


View All Participants

What Our Families Are Saying

Watch More Videos

Founders Flight Mission Logo

The Founders Flight – Celestis did not produce a separate mission logo for the first flight.  The logo pictured was developed for the primary payload – Spain’s Minisat 01 satellite, sponsored by INTA, the Spanish space agency.  Minisat 01 was Spain’s first ever satellite to reach orbit.  The Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket that launched Minisat 01 and the Founders Flight is also pictured.

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