Memorial Spaceflights

Lee Anderson

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth... and touched the face of God!"

Celestis DNA Client Lee Sanford Anderson’s family has had multiple generations influenced by Aerospace as far back as World War II.

As a young boy, whenever anyone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, Lee would respond: “I want to be an Astronaut or Batman!”

During his Kindergarten years, Lee was entranced by the syndicated reruns of “Star Trek” and after watching Apollo 11 land on the Moon when Neil Armstrong took “One small step,” Lee had a “Space” themed birthday party. One of the presents he received was an Astronaut flight suit which he wore regularly until he outgrew it.

He also remembers his teachers in Elementary School rolling black & white televisions into classrooms to watch the live broadcast of Apollo 14’s Lunar Module landing on the Moon. Slightly more than a year later, televisions were again rolled into classrooms to watch Apollo 16’s Lunar Roving Vehicle drive around the Moon’s surface. 

While reviewing the generations in his family, it becomes clear how Lee’s love and fascination for Aerospace were inevitable. 

His mother, Virginia Gayle Smith, was a Pilot in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) during World War II and owned her own bright red Taylorcraft Airplane. His father, Roger Neal Anderson, had enlisted and served as a Control Tower Operator before his selection as an Aviation Cadet and trained to become a Pilot. 

Virginia and Roger first crossed paths at the Columbus Air Force Base (AFB) Chapel where she volunteered as Organist and a whirlwind romance ensued. Virginia also worked as a civilian “Link Instructor” on base. Shortly after earning his pilot’s wings and being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Roger and Virginia married.

The Air Force took Roger and Virginia on multiple assignments around the globe during his 20-year career. Lee’s older siblings were born in Japan and Texas while Lee was born at Selfridge AFB in Michigan.

Retiring as a Major, Roger then became an Aerospace Science Instructor, teaching Air Force Junior ROTC for 23 years at Belton-Honea Path High School in South Carolina, resulting in a total of 43 years in uniform!

Fast forward a few decades to a period when Lee attended college for a few years. After changing his major multiple times before realizing he was not well suited, at that time, to be a college student, he made the decision to join the Air Force.

Lee enlisted for four years and had the “pleasure” of being stationed at Grand Forks AFB, ND, serving on the Flight Line as a Defensive Avionics Specialist on the B-1B Lancer. As his career progressed, he was promoted to the Non-Commissioned Officer rank of Sergeant.

Upon completing his enlistment and receiving an Honorable Discharge, Lee enrolled at the University of North Dakota (UND), pursuing his Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with a double major in Marketing & Airport Management.

Even though he did not meet the vision requirements to become a Military or Commercial Pilot, Lee earned his Private Pilot’s License as part of the Airport Management program at UND Aerospace. 

After graduating from UND, Lee worked in multiple industries until presented with an opportunity to work on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner program. He filled various roles, both as a Vendor and as a Direct Employee, including IT Help Desk, Staff Analyst, Executive Chief of Staff, and Strategic Risk Management Analyst for more than 11 years.

Lee works with the In-Home Services division of Best Buy’s Geek Squad, supporting their goal “to protect the world one device at a time!” He also volunteers with multiple Veterans’ Family Support organizations, including the Patriot Guard Riders and Snowball Express, a program of the Gary Sinise Foundation for “Gold Star Children.”

Lee’s hobbies include attending Dragon Con in Atlanta each Labor Day weekend, spreading joy with his “Magic Carpet Ride Truck” and volunteering as a Driver with the Dragon Con Guest Transportation Department.

He and his wife Nikki reside in Goose Creek, SC, with their feline “fur-baby,” Captain Malcolm (Mal) Reynolds, who “aims to misbehave!” 

As previously mentioned, Aerospace extends to other generational branches of Lee’s family.

His brother graduated from the US Air Force Academy. During his 22-year career as a B-52 Bomber Pilot, he flew multiple Combat Missions during “Operation Desert Storm” and is now a Pilot for a major air cargo carrier. 

Continuing with the third generation of his family, two of Lee’s nephews currently serve as Pilots in the Air Force, while a third nephew is a Software Engineer for an Aerospace Defense Company.

When presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have his DNA launched into outer space on Celestis’ “Enterprise Flight,” Lee could not pass up the chance to be part of history.



High Flight

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, - and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air…


Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.

Where never lark or even eagle flew —

And, while with the silent, lifting mind I've trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."


John Gillespie Magee Jr. - Pilot Officer

Royal Canadian Air Force - August 1941

Fulfill The Dream of Spaceflight

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