- Protected: Can I prearrange a space funeral?
- X-Class Solar Flare
- Celestis expands to Las Vegas!
- Track Celestis Spacecraft Orbiting Earth
- Sunjammer and your loved one, defending Earth
- Spaceport America Tourist Attractions
- The Celestis Foundation: Private Enterprise in Space for the Public Good on Earth
- Family Donates Spacecraft Model Collection to Celestis
- New Frontier Flight Reenters Atmosphere
- Name That Mission!
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This spectacular image of the sun shows yet another powerful solar flare that the sun has emitted in recent weeks. The image was taken Nov. 19 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. You can fly a symbolic portion of your love one’s cremated remains on board a new solar observing spacecraft, the Sunjammer solar sail, which will give us even earlier warning of solar storms that could adversely affect Earth. Reservations are open: Contact us for more information.
This solar flare peaked at 5:26 a.m. EST (10:26 am GMT) Nov. 19. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
This flare is classified as an X1.0 class flare. “X-class” denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
This flare came from an active region numbered AR 1893 that is just rotating out of sight over the sun’s right side. Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum conditions. Humans have tracked this solar cycle continuously since it was discovered in 1843, and it is normal for there to be many flares a day during the sun’s peak activity.
Las Vegas residents are used to living with the Sun. Now they can spend eternity orbiting it in space. The Davis Funeral Home Charleston Chapel in Central Las Vegas and Davis Funeral Home and Memorial Park Eastern Chapel are now offering families the opportunity to honor departed loved ones by flying cremated remains on a pioneering NASA mission that could orbit the Sun for millions of years. These two funeral homes are now the exclusive distributors in Las Vegas for Celestis Memorial Spaceflights, which has launched a dozen space burial missions since 1997.
The NASA mission, called “Sunjammer,” is scheduled for launch in January 2015. Celestis’ parent company, Space Services Holdings, Inc., is part of a team of leading aerospace companies and government agencies – led by NASA – that is developing and launching Sunjammer, the world’s largest solar sail. Like a sailboat that harnesses the wind on Earth, a solar sail uses a large area of reflective material to harness the physical pressure of sunlight in space. The slight, but steady force of sunlight is free energy that can push a spacecraft just about anywhere in zero-g.
Sunjammer will be the largest solar sail ever flown – almost 13,000 square feet in area, about one-third the size of a football field. The spacecraft will serve to protect humanity by monitoring the Sun for dangerous solar storms, which can cause serious, long-term damage to electric utilities on Earth and satellites in space. With enough early warning of impending solar storms, engineers can minimize the damage such storms pose to our increasingly high-tech civilization.
Another service that the two funeral homes are making available to Las Vegas residents is Celestis’ newest offerings, also on board Sunjammer: Celestis MindFiles™ and Celestis BioFiles™, which will permit people from around the world to include their photos, messages, music, art, and DNA on Sunjammer. Using Celestis MindFiles and BioFiles, Las Vegas families have the opportunity to take one last eternal trip together with their departed loved ones.
Also aboard will be the cremated remains of the late Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek), his wife Majel (the “First Lady of Star Trek“), James Doohan (who played “Scotty”), along with people from various walks of life.
Rod Roddenberry, member of Star Trek‘s first family and son of Gene and Majel Barrett Roddenberry, said about launching his parents on the upcoming Sunjammer mission, “I think it was pretty amazing that my father’s ashes got to go up on one the first Celestis flights in 1997 and I remember being very impressed that he was actually going to go where so few had gone before. So years later my mother spoke to Celestis and said that she would love to one day accompany my father up. I’m very happy that she will join my father on the Sunjammer Solar Sail mission very shortly. I was also really excited to hear that James Doohan (“Scotty” as in “Beam me up Scotty”) from Star Trek would be joining my mother and father on that same mission. ”
“We welcome Davis Funeral Home Charleston Chapel in Central Las Vegas and Davis Funeral Home and Memorial Park Eastern Chapel to the Celestis team,” said Charles M. Chafer, CEO of Space Services Holdings, Inc. and co-founder of Celestis. “We are impressed with their professionalism and their dedication to serving the families who use their services.”
“We are excited to offer the Celestis services to Las Vegas,” said Todd Noecker, General Manager of Davis Funeral Home Charleston Chapel in Central Las Vegas and Davis Funeral Home and Memorial Park Eastern Chapel. “As Las Vegas is home to the largest annual Star Trek convention in the world, the Sunjammer mission is a wonderful opportunity for Las Vegans to journey with Star Trek legends into the final frontier on a mission that will protect Earth.”
Visitors to these two Las Vegas funeral homes can learn more about Celestis and its various space burial options. In addition to the Sunjammer mission, families can have cremated remains launched into Earth orbit, to the Moon, or on a trip to space that returns the cremated remains to Earth. With this latter service, after the spaceflight occurs, the cremated remains – still sealed inside the space capsule – are returned to the family as a memento. Visitors can also pre-arrange a Celestis space burial for themselves.
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!
We have launched four memorial spaceflight missions into Earth orbit, two of which you can still track on our website:
- The Founders Flight was launched in 1997 and reentered the atmosphere in 2002. Read about the mission and its reentry.
- The Ad Astra Flight was launched in 1998 and remains in Earth orbit. Track it live, in orbit!
- The Millennial Flight was launched in 1999 and remains in Earth orbit. Track it live, in orbit!
- The New Frontier Flight was launched in May 2012 and reentered the atmosphere the following month. Read about the mission and its reentry.
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!
Celestis’ Sunjammer solar sail is a NASA-funded starship that will travel many millions of miles toward the Sun, demonstrating – for the first time – a solar sail’s ability to fly and to navigate, as well as to provide early warning against the dangers of solar storms heading Earth’s way. This will also be a memorial spaceflight mission, carrying the cremated remains of people on this history-making journey.
But what are these solar storms, and what dangers do they pose?
The solar storms are technically called “coronal mass ejections” (CMEs):
- The outer layer of the Sun is referred to as the Sun’s “corona.”
- From time to time, the corona will erupt, spewing (ejecting) huge amounts of charged particles (part of the mass of the Sun) into space.
- The danger is, if one of these CME’s impacts Earth, the charged particles — interacting with Earth’s magnetic field — can play havoc with electricity grids, radio communications, computer systems, etc., which could result in widespread chaos lasting for years at a time.
In the modern era we have experienced relatively minor CMEs. But major CMEs have impacted the Earth in the past — well before the development of our modern, high tech society — and undoubtedly will impact us again in the future. For example, on March 13, 1989 a moderate CME caused an electric blackout in the Canadian province of Quebec that lasted approximately nine hours. But on September 1, 1859 a much more powerful CME impacted Earth. While we didn’t have computers, satellites and massive electricity grids at that time, we did have the telegraph: The 1859 CME’s impact on the world’s telegraph systems provides a cautionary tale for us today. During this CME, telegraph machines across North America, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia threw off sparks, shocking telegraph operators, setting small fires and effectively bringing down telegraph systems for two days. The 1859 CME is known as the “Carrington Event,” named after British amateur astronomer Richard Carrington who observed large sunspots and a massive solar flare at the time of the 1859 CME, and drew a connection to the effects observed on Earth.
Carrington Events are estimated to occur approximately once every 150 years: It’s not a question of “if,” but of “when” the next one will head our way. When a Carrington Event eventually impacts our increasingly electronic, interconnected, wired society, the results could be catastrophic. In a 2013 report Lloyd’s of London estimates that a Carrington Event could leave 20-40 million Americans without electricity for up to two years! The most vulnerable areas for the United States, Lloyd’s reports, include: the New York City-Washington, DC corridor; the Midwest and the Gulf Coast. Imagine the chaos that would occur if a major urban area, such as New York City, lost electric power for two years — or even for two weeks! No electricity would mean no lighting, no power to pump water and run sewage systems, no refrigeration, no subways, no elevators, no air conditioning….
However, with enough warning of a CME, managers of electric utilities can take preventative measures to reduce the risk of long-term damage to electric grids. This is where Sunjammer enters the picture.
Four aging satellites currently monitor the Sun for CMEs. (See image below.) These satellites are located along Earth’s orbit, or at a special point (called “L1″) between the Earth and the Sun where the gravity of the Earth and Sun offset each other, allowing the satellites to remain in place without needing to use much fuel to maintain their position in space. Sunjammer will also fly to L1. Should this technology demonstration mission prove successful, future solar sail spacecraft could be positioned at points even closer to the Sun, providing earlier warning of CMEs. Because solar sails do not need to carry propellant – they harness the physical pressure of sunlight to travel through space – solar sails could maintain observing positions much closer to the Sun than conventional, fuel-burning spacecraft currently can.
The Celestis Sunjammer mission will be truly historic, helping to defend Earth from dangerous CMEs. Reservations for this important mission are open. Pre-arrangements can also be made for yourself. Contact Celestis today for more information.
Our next Earth Rise Service mission will launch out of Spaceport America, New Mexico. If you’re traveling to New Mexico — “The Land of Enchantment” — to view the liftoff in person, consider visiting some of the many tourist attractions near Spaceport America.
First, tour Spaceport America itself. Spaceport America describes itself as, “the first spaceport in the world built-from-the-ground-up to host private enterprise, intended to be the launch-pad of the global commercial spaceflight industry and the second space age. The $209 million project has attracted worldwide attention because of its bold premise, stunning architecture and the fact that it is home to the world’s first commercial passenger spaceline company, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.”
The White Sands Missile Range Museum‘s outdoor display of over 50 rockets and missiles that were tested at the U.S. government’s famous White Sands Missile Range is a must-see. White Sands is the U.S.’ largest overland military test range. It was at White Sands’ “Trinity Site” that the world’s first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945.
White Sands National Monument is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Here, dunes have engulfed 275 square miles of desert creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves this dunefield, along with the plants and animals that have adapted to its constantly changing environment.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park encompasses the largest and most popular lake in New Mexico, and provides camping, boating, water skiing, swimming, fishing, hiking and bird watching. Southern New Mexico’s mild climate makes this park a popular year-round destination.
You might consider visiting one of the area’s famous hot springs, famous for their reputation as ancient healing remedies, in nearby Truth or Consequences. In fact, the city of Truth or Consequences was originally named “Hot Springs.”
We also recommend making the roughly two-hour drive to Alamogordo for a visit to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. The museum stresses the significant role that the state of New Mexico has played in the development of the U.S. space program. For example, Robert Goddard, the father of American rocketry, conducted much of his pioneering aerospace research in New Mexico. Visit the museum to learn more about Goddard’s work, and to see the museum’s many fascinating space history artifacts on display.
For more tourist information, visit the Web sites of the Elephant Butte Chamber of Commerce, the Truth or Consequences Chamber of Commerce, the Truth or Consequences Visitors Guide (flash version), the Sierra County New Mexico Recreation and Tourism Board, the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the New Mexico Department of Tourism.
Since 1995, the Celestis Foundation has donated funds to organizations that promote innovative projects that improve life on Earth and stimulate our ongoing exploration of the universe.
The Foundation focuses on nurturing entrepreneurial space enterprises, supporting organizations that educate our children and the general public about space, and contributing to charities that create a positive future on Earth. A portion from the proceeds of each Celestis sale is donated to an individual, organization, or institution that embodies the spirit and principles of exploration, planetary conservation, and innovation so prevalent among our mission participants.
For the last half dozen years the Celestis Foundation has been a Gold Sponsor of the Annual Frank J. Redd Student Scholarship Competition — a prime example of an educational initiative that is fostering the development of both students and the final frontier. The Scholarship Competition provides college students with the opportunity to share their work on small satellite concepts and missions at the annual Small Satellite Conference. The AIAA/Utah State University Conference on Small Satellites has become internationally recognized as the premier conference on small satellites.
We have also proudly supported the the X PRIZE Foundation, which, quoting from it website, is “an educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, thereby inspiring the formation of new industries and the revitalization of markets that are currently stuck due to existing failures or a commonly held belief that a solution is not possible. The Foundation addresses the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. It motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital.” In fact, Celestis has an agreement with two of the Google Lunar X Prize Teams — Odyssey Moon Limited and Astrobotic Technology, Inc. — to launch payloads containing human cremated remains to the surface of the Moon as early as 2014/2015.
In 2008 and 2009 the Celestis Foundation began its ongoing support of the Houston Urban Debate League by creating the League’s Web site. The mission of the Houston Urban Debate League is to build, support, and sustain programs in Houston’s public schools to make policy debate an educational resource available to all students. Policy debate prepares students to be effective advocates for themselves, their families, and their community. The Houston Urban Debate League develops public-private partnerships that enhance the investment of school districts in debate activities by providing business and community finance, mentoring, communication, and facilities to permanently restore policy debate in all of Houston’s public high schools. Celestis supports HUDL as a means to assist under-served high school students to pursue university education and careers in law and government. HUDL exemplifies the Celestis Foundation’s commitment to the future.
The Celestis Foundation ensures a continuing source of support for the people and projects that will accelerate the opening of the space frontier and the preservation of Earth. We invite you to read more about the Celestis Foundation and the good work it does.
The family of James J. Allaire, a participant on our New Frontier Flight that was successfully launched into Earth orbit on May 22, has donated Mr. Allaire’s impressive collection of spacecraft models to Celestis.
Mr. Allaire, who lived in Derby, Connecticut, was a dedicated spacecraft modeler. Before the advent of the Internet, he conducted a great deal of research reading books about spacecraft. The Internet enabled him to learn much more about rockets. The online photos he found helped him craft next-to-exact replicas of spacecraft. He really liked to craft a perfect replica of a rocket using various household items, such as foil packaging from candy wrappers to get the coloring on the heat shields just right. He kept all this paraphernalia in his modeling room with all his models, which were in mounted in specially-built display cases. This hobby was a stress reliever for him: He truly enjoyed the detail work of crafting a model, or scratch-building pieces of a model that he felt were more accurate for the particular rocket model he was building.
Mr. Allaire entered numerous space model competitions locally, regionally and nationally (including International Plastic Modelers Society competition) and won various awards. The out of town competitions gave him the opportunity not only to see other modelers and check out their techniques, but also to explore the area where a contest was being held. With his wry sense of humor, he enjoyed viewing some of the tongue-in-cheek dioramas that some modelers crafted. He took his nephews, who also did modeling for a time, on these weekend trips to space model contests. And it wasn’t just his nephews who modeled: his niece also built a model and competed.
A number of years ago, Mr. Allaire started a spacecraft modeling class at his local library to teach kids how to model. Although he never held a title from the modeling clubs with which he was associated, he benefitted from his affiliation with the local modeling club, Connecticut Yankee Modelers. The club held afternoon sessions at a local hobby show to show kids the art of modeling. He also enjoyed meeting and discussing modeling with other people from the Southwestern Connecticut area.
Celestis appreciates this fine gift from the Allaire family!
The New Frontier Flight, a Celestis Earth Orbit Service mission that was launched May 22, 2012 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, has reentered Earth’s atmosphere, blazing like a shooting star in final tribute to the 320 people on board this historic memorial spaceflight. Reentry occurred during the satellite’s 576th orbit of Earth at 10:22 pm CDT June 26 (3:22 am June 27).
The New Frontier Flight was dedicated to the spirit of the 320 mission participants and to people everywhere who share the passion for exploration and discovery. The spacecraft carried a symbolic portion of the cremated remains of each flight participant on Earth orbit. Among the people aboard this mission were Mercury Seven NASA astronaut L. Gordon Cooper, Star Trek actor James Doohan (who played “Mr. Scott”) and hundreds of people from various walks of life in the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, India, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, The Netherlands, France, South Africa and Russia.
In light of the reentry, several Celestis families have written us, expressing their gratitude for our service. “Thank you for keeping our family informed,” writes James Harmon, the father of New Frontier Flight participant Dane Kauffman Harmon. “Our experience with Celestis has been first class from beginning to end.” Jerry Norman, a funeral director for one of our clients, writes, “Thanks for the update! Great service!” And Todd Johnson, son of New Frontier Flight participant Nancy L. Johnson, writes, “Congratulations on a spectacular launch and successful mission!… I love sharing our Celestis story with friends and strangers alike. I love what Celestis offers. It’s not just about a launch. It’s about a celebration – about dreams – about memories that will last my lifetime. Thank you and everyone at Celestis for your hard work and perseverance to bring celebrations, dreams and memories to the families and friends of the launch participants. All of you make a difference in the lives of others. I wish you the very best of success!”
Visit The New Frontier Flight webpage to see video of the launch.
We invite you to suggest a name for our next mission, which is scheduled for launch on June 21, 2013. The winner of the contest will receive a mission patch that we have flown in space, together with a certificate of authenticity!
This launch will occur from Spaceport America, New Mexico, the site of each of our previous Earth Rise Service missions. We will fly cremated remains into space and return them to Earth: After the mission, the flight capsule or module that carried a loved one into space and back again is returned to the family, with the ashes still sealed inside. We will once again fly on board an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL launch vehicle.
If you’re interested in the mission-naming contest, it might help you to consider the names of our previous memorial spaceflights. We called our first mission “The Founders Flight.” Our December 1999 mission was called “The Millennial Flight.” And our last Earth Rise mission — “The Goddard Flight” — was named after the father of American space exploration, Dr. Robert Goddard, who performed much of his pioneering aerospace work in New Mexico.
Consider the venue — Spaceport America. It’s a new launch facility that will serve as the headquarters of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism company. It’s also located near the White Sands Missile Range, where so much space history has been made.
Be creative! If you have a suggestion, please contact us! The contest deadline is July 4, 2012.
UPDATE (July 12): Aleta Duvall has won the contest! The name of our next Earth Rise mission is The Centennial Flight, named in honor of the 100th anniversary of New Mexico’s statehood. For her winning entry, Aleta will receive a Centennial Flight mission patch that will be flown on the mission. Congratulations Aleta! (And thanks to everyone who suggested names for the mission!)