An exhibit in the Tulsa Air and Space Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma honors those who have journeyed into the sky. From the very beginnings of flight and wooden aircraft to the sophisticated metal crafts of the space age those who have reached the sky are honored.
- Gregory Brown
One part of the exhibit is of especial mention. This particular installation debuted on July 2, 2008 and is dedicated to the life and dreams of a young boy named Gregory Brown, the first Oklahoman in space. Born December 31, 1984 his mother described him as a smiley and silly baby. As he grew up to be a boy who loved anything to do with science fiction, NASA, space, the shuttle program, Star Wars... all of it. Legos were one of his favorite tools to build the models of the rockets and planes he so admired.
When he was just 14, Greg died of complications from his leukemia treatments. His mother, September Brown, knew that a Celestis space burial was the right choice for her son. Greg is now orbiting earth on board The Millennial Flight
which was successfully launched on December 20, 1999.
Nine years later the exhibit in Tulsa would open. The display highlights his love of space, his fight with leukemia and the tributes he was paid after his death. Fitting for one who loved space, the display is full of artifacts from those who helped his dream become a reality.
[caption id="attachment_560" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Millennial Flight family members pose by the launch vehicle."]
There's a letter from his bone marrow donor, a member of the US Navy, officially stating that part of his remains had been buried at sea. His mother had contacted the donor, asking him to quietly disperse a portion of the ashes into the ocean. He went further and Greg was honored not just in private but with full honors, the crew turned out in their dress blues.
A letter and patch from the Navy commemorate his status as an honorary VR-1 Squadron Star Lifter member, a squad that had been entrusted with the transport of Congressman C.W. Bill Young.
There's a letter from that same Congressman Young. He and his wife Beverly personally carried his donor marrow to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, touched by the Brown family's struggle.
The display also contains some of Greg's own model rockets that he didn't just build but flew as well. There's a teddy bear signed by his family, given to him for his bone marrow transplant. Several baseball caps adorn the display, two of them signed by astronauts and another by a tennis champion who is also dedicated to fighting cancer in children.
The balance of the display chronicles the launch of Greg's cremated remains by Celestis. The process started with transfer of the cremated remains to the flight module, 90 days before the launch, and the integration of the Celestis craft onto the rocket. It was an Orbital Sciences Corporation Taurus rocket that took Greg to space. The Taurus team themselves honored the Brown family by choosing to sign the rocket "Greg Brown / To Infinity And Beyond," under the Celestis logo.
And, aptly placed, the picture of Greg holding one of his model airplanes is right next to a picture of The Millennial Flight
during takeoff in all its blaze of glory.
You can read more about Greg on the Celestis Web site
and you can track The Millennial Flight's
orbit in real time here