More than 70 Heritage Flight family members and loved ones joined Celestis and Surrey Satellite Technologies, US staff in Englewood, Colorado for “A Celebration of the Heritage Flight” on July 21, 2017.
Thanks to the generosity of Surrey, guests got a tour and close-up view of the Orbital Test Bed (OTB) Satellite that serves as host for the flight capsules of Heritage Flight participants before it is closed out and shipped to the launch site at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Mission and satellite briefings were provided by the OTB team, who received several requests for autographs from some of the younger guests - thrilled to see how and where the satellite that will launch their loved ones to orbit is constructed.
A special guest – legendary singer/song writer Neil Diamond – briefly joined the tour and congratulated the team as he viewed the spacecraft.
Here are a few moments captured from the event. Celestis is committed to providing the most compelling memorial service on or off the planet for our family members and their loved ones.
Larry Papke, whose parents are flying together on the Heritage Flight, standing before the OTB satellite on which his parents' flight capsule will orbit Earth. “The tour was awesome,” Mr. Papke wrote us afterwards. “It was very special and more than I expected.”
Katie Diamond, sister of Daniel Patrick McNeil, who was a beloved son, brother, loyal friend, artist, musician and innovator.
Group photo taken at Surrey. Standing next to Katie Diamond is her husband — American singer-songwriter, Neil Diamond (wearing the cap).
Kandra Kargo, spouse of Heritage Flight participant Cornelis J. Simons. Mr. Simons, who spent much of his life in his native Holland, was knighted into the Sixth Order of Orange-Nassau by the Dutch Queen, Beatrix of Nassau, for his service and public outreach in astronomy.
A Heritage Flight family viewing the OTB satellite, which will carry their loved one on a journey among the stars.
More About the Heritage Flight
Celestis staff and Surrey engineers posing next to the OTB. Image credit: Surrey Satellite Technology US
Typically in Celestis Earth orbit missions the Celestis payload of cremated remains and DNA samples fly as a “secondary payload” on board a rocket that flies a “primary payload,” such as a commercial or scientific satellite. The Celestis container carrying the precious cremated remains and DNA is attached to the upper stage engine that carries the primary payload into orbit. The primary payload and upper stage engine then separate, orbiting Earth independently of one another. That’s certainly exciting in itself!
Stage separation above Earth. Image Credit: NASA
But the Heritage Flight is special: It will fly as part of the primary payload, Surrey’s Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite. That is, each Celestis capsule — carrying the cremated remains or DNA of a given person — will be attached directly to the OTB satellite. This makes the Heritage Flight a unique Earth orbit mission for Celestis families.
This special memorial spaceflight also allowed Celestis and Surrey to offer Heritage Flight families the extraordinary chance to see their loved ones’ flight container on a primary payload satellite! This private event – offered exclusively for family members and loved ones of participants on the Celestis Heritage Flight – celebrated the completion of OTB.
Surrey engineer integrates Heritage Flight participant capsules and modules to the device that carries Celestis participants on the OTB. Image credit: Surrey Satellite Technology US
For more information about the Heritage Flight, read Countdown to Celestis 16 – The Heritage Flight.
When Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols died in late July at age 89, she was lauded as the trailblazer she was during her lifetime. However, her story is far from over. In early 2023, she will fly alongside the DNA of her son, Kyle Johnson, aboard Celestis’ Enterprise Flight. In addition, the Nichelle Nichols Foundation – announced today, on what would have been her 90th birthday – will continue to promote diversity in STEM fields.By Celestis
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