Memorial Spaceflights

Track Celestis Spacecraft Orbiting Earth

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Celestis' Earth Orbit service affordably launches a symbolic portion of cremated remains into space. Your loved one will venture into the final frontier as part of a real space mission, riding alongside a commercial or scientific satellite. The Celestis spacecraft is placed in Earth orbit where it remains until it reenters the atmosphere, harmlessly vaporizing like a shooting star in final tribute.  You can even track the satellite as it revolves around our planet! [caption id="attachment_1019" align="aligncenter" width="546"]Satellite track Display from tracking the Celestis Millennial Flight as it flies over the United States[/caption] We have launched four memorial spaceflight missions into Earth orbit, two of which you can still track on our website: [caption id="attachment_1044" align="alignright" width="300"]Polar Orbit Illustration of a satellite in polar orbit.  The satellite's orbit is marked in red.  The satellite can be seen by people who are in the white band on the surface of Earth.  As the satellite orbits over the north and south poles, the Earth rotates from west to east (compare the left image with the right image).  As this happens, the white band -- the area on Earth from which people can see the satellite flying overhead in the night sky -- moves westward.  So over time, the satellite orbits over every point on Earth.  Image Credit: NOAA[/caption] The two Celestis spacecraft currently orbiting Earth -- the Ad Astra and Millennial missions -- do so in what's called a "polar orbit," meaning their orbits take them over the north and south poles.  Since the Earth rotates eastward beneath them, the two satellites fly over each point on Earth.  (See illustration at right.)  As of this writing, the Ad Astra memorial spacecraft takes approximately 101 minutes to complete each of its orbits, while the Millennial memorial spacecraft takes approximately 97 minutes to do so. The length of time the spacecraft remains in orbit depends on a variety of factors: orbital altitude, the shape of the spacecraft, etc. While some missions may orbit the Earth for less than a day before reentry, others may orbit for centuries. Specific launch information is provided to you after the launch occurs and the spacecraft completes at least one successful orbit. You can track our Earth 0rbiting missions online by visiting our website via the links above.  You can also track our satellites using the Star Walk app, which is, "an award-winning education app that allows users to easily locate and identify 20,000+ objects in the night sky. The 360-degree, touch control star map displays constellations, stars, planets, satellites, and galaxies currently overhead from anywhere on Earth."  Star Walk's display shows the position of each Celestis spacecraft against the constellations of the sky (e.g., Taurus, Aries, Cancer). Satellite tracking software uses satellite flight data collected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which updates its satellite tracking data periodically.  NORAD tracks all man-made objects in space. In addition to tracking our Earth orbit missions, you should also be able to track our inaugural Voyager Service mission, the Sunjammer solar sail, which will travel into deep space.  Visit our online Launch Manifest for information about all of our exciting upcoming missions!

Further Reading

To Boldly Go: Nichelle Nichols’ 90th Celebrated With Unveiling of Foundation

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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