Giving Tuesday: The Celestis Foundation

The Celestis Foundation was one of the earliest supporters of the XPRIZE

On this Giving Tuesday, we spotlight the XPRIZE – the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. The Celestis Foundation was one of the earliest donors to the XPRIZE — well before $10 million was raised to award the winner of the Ansari XPRIZE.

The XPRIZE, later titled the Ansari XPRIZE for suborbital spaceflight, motivated 26 teams from seven nations to invest more than $100 million in pursuit of the $10 million purse. On October 4, 2004, the Ansari XPRIZE was awarded to Mojave Aerospace Ventures for its successful flights of SpaceShipOne, marking the dawn of the personal spaceflight revolution and signifying a radical breakthrough in prize philanthropy.

White Knight & SpaceShipOne
Slung below its equally innovative mothership dubbed White Knight, SpaceShipOne rides above planet Earth, photographed during a flight test.  Photo Credit: Scaled Composites

The original XPRIZE was announced in 1996, offering a $10 million prize to the first privately financed team that could build and fly a three‐passenger vehicle 100 kilometers into space twice within two weeks. In 1997 Celestis hosted a Texas XPRIZE event at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, Texas. Our event featured a presentation by Erik Lindbergh (grandson of Charles Lindbergh). Celestis CEO Charles Chafer served on the XPRIZE’s earliest Advisory Board.

Catherine and David Hannah, together with Eric Lindbergh
Catherine and David Hannah, Jr., founder of Space Services Inc. of America, with Erik Lindbergh (right) at the 1997 Texas XPRIZE event at the Lone Star Flight Museum.

The Celestis Foundation shares your dedication to promoting innovative projects that improve life on Earth and stimulate our ongoing exploration of the universe. When you select a Celestis Memorial Spaceflight for a loved one or yourself, you are also making a real contribution to a positive, sustainable human future. A portion of the proceeds from each Memorial Spaceflight mission is donated to individuals, institutions, and organizations — such as XPRIZE — that embody the spirit and commitment of mission participants.

XPRIZE Founder and Executive Chairman Peter H. Diamonds, M.D. (center) at the 1997 Texas XPRIZE event at the Lone Star Flight Museum.

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. Learn more about the Celestis Foundation.

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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.”

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:

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


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Jamie Kyle Ottaway

Jamie Kyle OttawayJamie Kyle Ottaway – a wonderful son, caring brother and the very best of friends

Born in Salisbury District Hospital in England, at 9.03am, on the 12th of March 1991 and spent most of his life in the village of Ludgershall, in Wiltshire.

From a very young age, Jamie had an enquiring mind, always keen to learn and understand, looking into things and often dismantling toys to see how they worked… (not often putting them back together). His favourite toys being Kinex and Lego, where he would ignore the instructions and build something completely different, including a Greek temple from a race car and an AT-AT from an aeroplane.

From the age of 11 Jamie chose to attend the Duke of York’s Military Academy in Dover, where as well as his academic studies he became a saxophone player in the school’s marching band, attending many international sporting events as part of pre game and half time entertainment. He also became the Regimental Sergeant Major in the cadets, which was the highest rank achievable by students.

When Jamie left school, he gained a place on the QinetiQ apprenticeship scheme as an Aeronautical Engineer. A four year work placement which had him working on many military aircraft including Typhoon class fighters, Tornadoes and his personal favourite, the Apache Helicopter. In March 2012 Jamie won the Joe Morrall Award for a paper on The British Experimental Rotor Program and was nominated by QinetiQ for the National competition held in London. In October that year, he put forward his paper in a presentation to the Royal Aeronautical Society and came first in the under 25 category, winning the prestigious, NE Rowe Medal.

In his personal life Jamie was a keen motorcyclist and joined the Royal British Legion Riders, becoming their youngest ever member. They are a charity group that raise funds for military charities through various ride outs, events and often provide escorts for repatriations. He had raised money for the Army Benevolent Fund and when they heard of his passing, they formed a “Donate in Memory” campaign, where a small plaque is placed on-line and people can donate in that person’s memory. (See Jamie was the first person on there and is the only person with a full bio… he is still an inspiration to others.

Everyone that knows him will miss Jamie, something attested to by the attendance at his funeral, when over 200 people came to pay homage to their “Grand Overlord, Jotters”. Not everyone could fit in, so many stood in the rain, outside.

We try to celebrate his life, more than mourn his passing and this spaceflight is exactly that, a celebration. Although we are sad that he has gone, we are happier that he was ever here at all….

Jamie Kyle Ottaway was a participant on Celestis’ sixth Earth Rise Service memorial spaceflight, The Conestoga Flight.

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Tom (Maddog) Baggette

Tom (Maddog) BaguetteThomas Laffin Baggette, Jr., 75, of Muscle Shoals Alabama, loving husband, father, grandfather, aerospace engineer, and sports enthusiast, passed away September 27, 2011 after a brave struggle with several serious illnesses, never losing his keen intellect or sense of humor, at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital, Florence, Alabama.

Mr. Baggette was born on December 21, 1935 in Greenville, Mississippi, the son of the late Thomas L. Sr. and Jesse Mae Carroll Baggette. During his early years in Leland, Mississippi he was a star athlete and scholar. He played quarterback and was an all conference basketball player. At his high school graduation he was presented the inaugural Bobby Henry Award as the outstanding Washington County graduate. Following graduation in 1953 he entered Auburn University and was a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. While in college he married his high school sweetheart Barbara Mason. In 1957 he graduated from Auburn with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

Mr. Baggette took a job after college with Northrop Corp., at Cape Canaveral, Florida working on the first U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile. During his long career as an aeronautical engineer he worked on numerous space and aircraft programs in Florida, California, Utah, and Mississippi. These programs included: Snark, Atlas, Agena, Ranger, Mariner, Gemini, Saturn, Apollo, B-1 Bomber, and the Space Shuttle Main Engines.

Tom (Maddog) BaguetteMr. Baggette was honored with a NASA Silver Snoopy Award. The Silver Snoopy is an award created by NASA Astronauts and personally presented by them. The Silver Snoopy is awarded to employees who represent the core principles for outstanding flight safety and mission success. He ended his long test conductor career with Rockwell International Corp. on the space shuttle main engine testing at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi. During an interview at Stennis he is quoted on his work on the Apollo 11command module.

“When Armstrong and Aldrin landed it was quite a thrill. I could not talk myself into the fact I had had something to do with it. Then, years later, I walked into the National Air & Space Museum and there it sat, the Apollo 11 command module. I had crawled all over inside that thing in Florida and here it is in a museum. During the work it was not a special feeling. You treated them all the same. You knew that people were going to ride in it. You had to do your best job. I thoroughly enjoyed that job. That was fun.”

An avid golfer, he had a total of five hole in ones. He enjoyed playing with a regular group of friends for many years at Windance Country Club, near his Long Beach, Mississippi home from 1977 until his illness.

Mr. Baggette is survived by his wife Barbara Ann Mason Baggette; one daughter Mary Weller of Panorama Village, Texas; two sons, Clint (wife Joanne) of Loveland, Ohio and Steve (wife Shonda) of Muscle Shoals, Alabama; two grandsons, Kyle Weller (wife Erin) of Houston, Texas and Connor Baggette of Muscle Shoals, Alabama; and one brother, Col. Jack Baggette, USMC, Ret’d. (wife Sandra), Port Royal, South Carolnia; and sister-in-law Gwen Mason (Statesboro, Georgia).


One precious to our hearts has gone;
The voice we loved is stilled.
The place made vacant in our home;
Can never more be filled.
Our Father in his wisdom called;
The one his love had given;
And so on earth the body lies;
His soul is safe in Heaven.
Some day, some time, my eyes shall see;
The face I loved so well.
Some day, some time, his hand I’ll clasp;
And never say farewell.
The pearly gates were opened;
A gentle voice said “Come,”
And with farewells spoken
He gently entered home.
His weary hours and days of pain;
His troubled nights are past;
And in our aching hearts we know;
He has found sweet rest at last.
To have, to hold and then to part;
Is the greatest sorrow of our heart.
Keep him Jesus, in Thy keeping;
‘Til I reach that shining shore;
Then, O Master, Let me have him;
And love him as I did before.

Tom (Maddog) Baggette was a participant on Celestis’ sixth Earth Rise Service memorial spaceflight, The Conestoga Flight.

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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.

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

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:

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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The Bell X-1 and Celestis

A Bell X-1 drops from a B-29 in the 1940s.
Bell X-1 released from a B-29 before ignition. Image Credit: U.S. Air Force

On October 14, 1947 Capt. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier when he flew his Bell X-1 — released from a B-29 plane over Muroc Field (now Edwards Air Force Base), California — to  an  airspeed of Mach 1.06. 50 years later, the principal designer of the preliminary concept for the Bell X-1 — aerospace engineer Benson Hamlin — also made aerospace history as one of the people on the first private memorial spaceflight, the Celestis Founders Flight.

Celestis Founders Flight launch
Launch of the first Celestis memorial spaceflight, The Founders Flight, April 21, 1997

Like the Bell X-1 that was carried to an altitude of 43,000 feet by a mothership and then released on it historic flight, on April 21, 1997 an Orbital Sciences Corporation Stargazer aircraft took off from the Canary Islands, Spain, carrying a Pegasus launch vehicle with the Celestis Founders Flight payload of human ashes. After carrying the Pegasus XL booster to an altitude of approximately 38,000 feet, the Stargazer released the winged rocket for a five-second free fall before the main engine ignited, powering the three-stage solid fuel vehicle into low Earth orbit. The Founders Flight — carrying Benson Hamlin, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and 22 others — orbited Earth until it re-entered the atmosphere on May 20, 2002.

Benson Hamlin
Benson Hamlin

An aviation pioneer whose aircraft design career spanned the era from biplanes to rockets, Benson Hamlin’s fascination with flight began when he was a young boy in Lakeville, Connecticut. He learned to fly an airplane, but his greater interest was how and why they flew.

Mr. Hamlin’s goal as a young man was to become an aeronautical engineer. He attained that goal by earning full scholarships to The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, and to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, New York. He graduated from RPI in the school’s first class of aeronautical engineers — a class of thirteen — in 1937.

Mr. Hamlin’s forty year career began at Chance-Vought Aircraft Corporation in Connecticut. Throughout his career, his desire to acquire greater knowledge, experience, and expertise in his field led him to airplane companies such as Bell Aircraft in Buffalo, New York where he did his design work for the Bell X-1, which is now on display in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

Bell X-1 in National Air & Space Museum
The Bell X-1 on display in the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Mr. Hamlin’s historic achievement was recognized in 1993 when he was awarded the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ prestigious Aircraft Design Award. While at Bell he also designed extremely sophisticated microwave missile-guided systems before the days of solid-state electronics.

During Mr. Hamlin’s aeronautical quest, he worked for companies such as as Vega Aircraft in California; General Electric in Cincinnati; Bell Helicopter in Arlington, Texas; and Boeing in Seattle. While at Boeing he served as assistant program manager of the Dynasoar Program. At Boeing-Cape Canaveral, he worked on the Apollo Program.

Mr. Hamlin was inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation Hall of Fame in Amherst, New York in 1987. He wrote a classic textbook, Flight Testing Conventional and Jet Propelled Aircraft, and was cited by other authors in many publications.

In life, Benson Hamlin ranked as a pioneer in aeronautics and astronautics. His was a never-ending journey for experience and knowledge. His participation in the Founders Flight was a fitting tribute to this leader of humanity’s journey to the stars.

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British Funeral Flights

UK FlagMany British families have chosen Celestis funeral flights to commemorate the lives of their departed loved ones. Celestis encourages Britons interested in our unique space funeral services to work with Heavens Above Fireworks, which is our master distributor in the United Kingdom. The company is led by Mr. Fergus Jamieson of Epping, Essex.

“For over a decade Celestis has been fortunate to develop a strong, working relationship with Mr. Fergus Jamieson. We are thrilled to work with Mr. Jamieson and our cooperation with his company over the years has always been very professional and prompt,” says Chris Chol, Director of Client Services. “We appreciate the dedication and efforts that Mr. Jamieson has devoted to offering funeral flights to his clients. It is truly inspiring to work with him to bring the dream of spaceflight one step closer to reality to our families in the UK, and contribute together to our future in space exploration.”

Eileen Stanford
British Celestis participant Eileen Stanford

Mr. Jamieson said, “We at Heavens Above Fireworks were really pleased to be appointed the UK’s Master Distributor for Celestis. Although we primarily disperse cremated remains in spectacular Memorial fireworks displays, the opportunity to extend our product offering to real rockets was just too good to miss for us and our clients. We find working with Celestis a delight: The team is always charming and they liaise well with our clients.”

Heavens Above Fireworks offers customers fireworks displays that incorporate cremation ashes. Their goal is to create a happier memorable event rather than a traditional funeral memorial. Firework displays often happen several weeks or even months after the traditional funeral ceremony, after the initial grieving period, and offer the family a chance to come together to truly celebrate the life of their loved one.


Mr. Jamieson has worked hard to be the first and foremost company to offer scattering ashes by fireworks. He and those at his company are dedicated to bringing each family they work with a sense of respect for their and their loved one’s wishes. One of their clients called it “the icing on the cake.” The website says it best: “A happier way to say goodbye.”

Having such an excellent distributor in the UK helps Celestis reach a wider audience who might not have otherwise heard of us. It also allows clients in the UK to have a British contact who can address questions and concerns during the decision making process. Mr. Jamieson has also been so kind as to prominently feature Celestis on his own website.