Celestis Luna Service Host Announces Support for Lunar Science Payloads

EarthriseMoon Express (MoonEx), the host of the next Celestis lunar memorial spaceflight, has announced that it will provide $1.5M in private funding for NASA-selected, lunar science payloads to fly to the Moon — including a payload that will fly along with the Celestis participants on board the Celestis Luna 02 flight.  When families choose Celestis memorial spaceflights they not only fulfill their loved ones’ dreams of spaceflight, they also support the exploration of space.

Moon Express made its announcement November 1, 2016 at the annual meeting of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), in response to NASA’s call for lunar instrument concepts that would be flown to the Moon utilizing commercial mission services. Under its Lunar Scout Program, Moon Express will provide up to $500,000 in funding for each instrument selected by NASA to fly aboard the company’s first three commercial lunar missions of opportunity, beginning next year in 2017.

“The Moon Express Lunar Scout Program is designed to expand our partnership with NASA and support the lunar science community with new low cost lunar orbiter and surface missions,” said company founder & CEO, Bob Richards. “Our goal is to collapse the cost of access to the Moon to enable a new era of lunar exploration and development for students, scientists and commercial interests.”

MoonEx spacecraft approaching the Moon
Image Credit: MoonEx

Earlier this year, Moon Express became the first private company to receive government permission to travel beyond Earth’s orbit into deep space and land on the Moon. The company received the landmark U.S. policy decision on July 20th, 2016, following in depth consultations with the FAA, the White House, the State Department, NASA and other federal agencies. Moon Express plans a series of low cost robotic missions to the Moon starting in 2017 in support of science, exploration and commerce, with a long term goal of prospecting and harvesting lunar resources.

Moon Express was selected by NASA as an industry partner in 2014 under the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST) program, designed to spur commercial cargo transportation capabilities to the surface of the Moon. Under the Lunar CATALYST program, NASA has provided Moon Express with technical support in the development of the company’s lunar lander systems, including the first ever flight tests of a commercial lander test vehicle conducted at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility.

The Lunar Scout Program is intended to be a pathfinder beyond Lunar CATALYST for new public private partnerships enabling delivery of NASA funded lunar science and exploration payloads by Moon Express commercial missions of opportunity.

MoonEx lunar lander on the Moon
Image Credit: MoonEx

“Public-private partnerships can further enable the exploration of the Moon and we applaud NASA and Moon Express for their initiatives,” remarked Dr. Clive Neal, LEAG Chairman. “Programs of these kind will enable new lunar missions of interest to the national and international scientific and exploration communities.”

ABOUT MOON EXPRESS
Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx) is a privately funded commercial space company blazing a trail to the Moon to unlock its mysteries and resources with low cost robotic spacecraft products & services using exponential technologies. Driven by long-term goals of exploring and developing lunar resources for the benefit of humanity, the company has short-term business on-ramps of providing lunar transportation and services for government and commercial customers. NASA partnered with Moon Express in 2014 under its Lunar CATALYST program to help build the capability to return the United States to the surface of the Moon. In October 2015, Moon Express announced a launch contract with Rocket Lab USA for 3 launches to the Moon beginning in 2017. In 2016, Moon Express announced an agreement with the US Air Force to utilize Cape Canaveral Launch Complexes 17 and 18 for the development of its spacecraft.

Moon Express is a leading contender to win the $40M Google Lunar XPRIZE competition.

The Moon Express founders, Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards, Naveen Jain, and Dr. Barney Pell, believe in the long term economic potential of the Moon to produce resources essential to humanity’s future on Earth and in space. For more information about Moon Express, visit: www.moonexpress.com

Reservations are open for the Celestis Luna 02 mission. Contact us for more information.


 

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Cape Canaveral-area Tourist Attractions

Our next Earth Orbit Service mission will launch out of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida.  If you’re traveling to the “Sunshine State” to view the liftoff in person, consider visiting some of the many tourist attractions near Cape Canaveral and in the nearby Orlando area as well.

Of course, we recommend a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Touring the Kennedy Space Center is a fascinating experience.  Take a bus tour of KSC and visit KSC’s Apollo/Saturn V Center, which features a massive, Saturn V rocket – the type that launched astronauts to the Moon.  Get a bird’s eye view of KSC from the vantage point of the Launch Complex 39 Observation Gantry. You’ll also want to tour the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, KSC’s “Rocket Garden” featuring some of the rockets from the early years of the space program, the Astronaut Memorial, and the hands-on, interactive exhibits in “Exploration Space.”  Expect to spend the better part of a day visiting KSC.

Cocoa Beach
Beautiful Cocoa Beach at sunset

In addition to the Kennedy Space Center, the Cocoa Beach area has a number of other attractions. Its beautiful beach is legendary.  A must visit is Ron Jon Surf Shop, which describes itself as, “a whole water world of eternal summer fun, encompassing more than two acres, overflowing with more surfwear, sportswear and beach gear than is available in any other single venue.  The flagship store in Cocoa Beach is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”  Be sure to check out the Florida Surf Museum as well.  The golfing and shopping are fantastic.  You can book an ocean cruise departing out of nearby Port Canaveral through the Disney, Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.   Deep sea fishing, parasailing, the Brevard Zoo, and eco-touring are other fun options as well. Click here for more information about visiting Cocoa Beach!

Disneyworld
Consider visiting nearby Disneyworld! Image Credit: Pinterest.com

With its subtropical climate, nearby wildlife, and vibrant night-life, there are quite a number of fun and interesting things to do in and around the big city of Orlando.  Of course, there are three major theme parks to visit: Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando.

But you can also fly in an airboat in the wild Florida wetlands, see an alligator wrestling show, swim with dolphins, ride along a zip-line over live alligators and crocodiles, go skydiving, play golf on spectacular courses, tour scenic gardens, enjoy some of Orlando’s many award-winning spas, or take in dinner and a show.  Visit VisitOrlando.com for a comprehensive list!


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Spaceport America Tourist Attractions

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.

Terminal/Hangar
The “Gateway to Space” terminal/hangar at Spaceport America. Image Credit: Pinterest.com

First, join us on our tour of Spaceport America on “L-1,” the day prior to liftoff. We’ll tour mission control and the launch pad where you can see the UP Aerospace launch vehicle that will carry your loved one into space. We’ll then drive to the futuristic “Gateway to Space” terminal/hangar where space tourists will board Virgin Galactic spacecraft.

Hot springs
One of the famous hot springs in Truth or Consequences. Image Credit: Pinterest.com

We recommend a visit to one of the area’s famous hot springs, which have a reputation as ancient healing remedies, in nearby Truth or Consequences.  In fact, the city of Truth or Consequences was originally named “Hot Springs.”

Another must-see is the outdoor display at the White Sands Missile Range Museum of over 50 rockets and missiles that were tested at the U.S. government’s famous White Sands Missile Range.  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
The White Sands National Monument

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.

Robert Goddard
Visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History and learn about the pioneering rocket research Robert Goddard conducted in New Mexico.

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 websites of the Elephant Butte Chamber of Commerce, the Truth or Consequences Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra County New Mexico Recreation and Tourism Board, the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the New Mexico Department of Tourism.


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A spaceflight honoring 100 years and over 1,000 people



Centennial Flight launch
Launch of the Centennial Flight from Spaceport America, New Mexico

The June 21, 2013 launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico of the Celestis Centennial Flight — which was named in honor of the 100th anniversary of New Mexico’s statehood — marked the cumulative flight of over 1,000 Celestis flight capsules into space over the course of Celestis’ company history.

Like Celestis families of other memorial spaceflights, the family members who travelled to Spaceport America found that the launch and all of the Celestis activities associated with it were made for an emotionally-moving experience. Family members and friends participated in the Centennial Flight’s launch-related events, which included:

– A tour of mission control, the launch pad and Spaceport America;

– Sharing memories of their departed loved ones in a non-sectarian memorial service for all of those on board the mission; and

– Viewing the thrilling launch!

After the flight each family received their loved one’s flown space capsule — with the cremated remains still inside — as a keepsake. Families also received a video of the launch and related activities, as well as a Launch Certificate.

Among the people aboard this memorial spaceflight were:

– Greatly admired Hatch, New Mexico Mayor Judd Nordyke, who was an early advocate for Spaceport America;

– Candy Johnson, an American dancer who appeared in several of the Frankie Avalon ‘Beach Party’ films of the 1960s, thrilling audiences with her highly energetic dance style;

– Johnson’s sister, Gayle Johns; and

– Maria Swan who was crowned “Miss World Argentina” in 1967 and became Argentina’s first female airline pilot.

The mission flew aboard an UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL launch vehicle, which has flown each of Celestis’ Earth Rise service missions. The spacecraft followed a trajectory like that flown by the astronauts on NASA’s early Gemini missions by flying into space and, after experiencing the zero gravity environment, returning to Earth. The Centennial Flight flew to an altitude of 73.9 miles (118.9 kilometers) and landed at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico approximately 23 miles (37 kilometers) downrange.

This was Celestis’ 5th Earth Rise mission and 12th overall memorial spaceflight.  Starting at just $1,295, the Earth Rise Service is a popular memorial spaceflight choice which, unlike other options such as Earth Orbit and lunar memorial missions, returns the flown cremated remains to the family. Read more about the Celestis Earth Rise Service….

The Goddard Flight

When Celestis launched its 10th memorial spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico in May 2011 the company decided to name the mission “The Goddard Flight” in honor of Robert Goddard, a famous American space pioneer.

The Goddard Flight is named after Robert Goddard
American rocketry pioneer Robert H. Goddard and his first liquid-fueled rocket, March 16, 1926.

Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocket propulsion, spent a dozen years in New Mexico developing and testing his rocket designs. So when Celestis launched its 10th memorial spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico in May 2011 the company decided to name the mission The Goddard Flight in honor of this famous American space pioneer.

Celestis’ Spaceport America launches fly on a suborbital trajectory, like Alan Shepard’s historic May 1961 suborbital spaceflight when Shepard became the first American to fly in space. Like other Celestis Earth Rise service missions, the Goddard Flight flew into space, remained above Earth’s atmosphere for several minutes, and then returned to Earth. After the flight the Celestis payload was recovered, validated as having reached space, and each flown capsule – still containing its ashes – was returned to each family as a keepsake.

Celestis Spaceport America launch pad tourLaunch Pad Tour
Families tour the launch pad at Spaceport America the day prior to a Celestis Earth Rise launch.Attending the LaunchAttending a Launch

Attending a Celestis launch at Spaceport America is an unforgettable experience! Families tour the launch pad and mission control – a privilege that Celestis cannot always arrange for families at other launch venues.  The day prior to liftoff Celestis conducts a non-sectarian memorial service where families share memories of their departed loved ones: These services are always beautiful, emotionally moving experiences that make for lifelong memories. Attendees also tour Spaceport America and see the facilities Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company will use for space tourist spaceflights. Moreover, families enjoy the beauty and wonder of New Mexico, and readily appreciate why the state is known as “the Land of Enchantment.”

Besides the launch and related activities at Spaceport America, Celestis publishes on its website the biographies of the people on board each of its memorial spaceflights. In addition to the flown capsule that is returned to each family, the flight’s online biographies provide a lasting tribute to the people whose dreams of spaceflight were fulfilled by their families through Celestis.

Reservations are open for the next Celestis Earth Rise mission, The Starseeker Flight. Celestis families will travel to New Mexico, visit the rocket and mission control, attend the Celestis memorial service, and experience the excitement of liftoff from Spaceport America! Contact us for more information…

Learn more about Robert Goddard…

 

The New Frontier Flight

New Frontier Flight launch
Launch of the New Frontier Flight, May 22, 2012, Cape Canaveral, Florida

Have you ever heard of a memorial being conducted at night? That’s what Celestis did when it launched the ashes of 320 mission participants into space May 22, 2012 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Nighttime launches are spectacular events – especially when someone you loved is on board. The Celestis families who witnessed the liftoff of The New Frontier Flight were overcome with joy as the launch vehicle carrying their loved ones’ ashes ascended into the night sky, like a star joining the heavens above.

Among the people on Celestis’ New Frontier Flight were Star Trek actor James Doohan (“Mr. Scott”), musician Randy Van Warmer – known for his hit song, “Just When I Needed You Most” – and Mercury 7 astronaut L. Gordon Cooper. In May 1963 Cooper piloted the Faith 7 spacecraft on the Mercury 9 mission – the last of the Project Mercury missions. In August 1965 he commanded the Gemini 5 mission, where he and astronaut Charles Conrad set a new space endurance record at the time, orbiting Earth for approximately eight days.

Ralph (Peter) T. Peterson Jr.
Pilot Ralph (Peter) T. Peterson Jr. flew on the New Frontier Flight. For his online Celestis biography his wife wrote, “Peter really wanted to fly on a space mission, and was so disappointed when that couldn’t happen. I made a promise to him many years ago, that he would one day go into space; hence his final mission will fulfill his dream.”

Yet the overwhelming majority of New Frontier Flight participants were everyday people from various walks of life. There were engineers, pilots, homemakers, a plumber, entrepreneurs, a delivery truck driver, educators, students, doctors, a police officer, and artists. They hailed from the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, India, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, The Netherlands, France, South Africa and Russia. While they had different backgrounds, they had families and friends who wanted to commemorate their lives in a truly unique way that reflected their interests in space exploration, science fiction and the stars above.

View video of the New Frontier Flight launch

Reservations are open for the next Celestis Earth-orbiting mission, which is scheduled for launch from the Cape this year. Celestis families will travel to Florida, view the rocket, tour NASA-KSC, attend the Celestis memorial service, and experience the excitement of liftoff from the cradle of the American space program! Contact us for more information…

Learn more about the New Frontier Flight…