What a wonderful day! The UP Aerospace SpaceLoft XL rocket carried the Pioneer Flight into space this morning. Liftoff occurred at 6:41 am MDT (8:41 am EDT, 5:41 am PDT, 12:41 GMT), shortly after sunrise – what a spectacular sight! You can view video of the launch here.
The crowd of onlookers – including high school and college students and their instructors, VIPs, and family members of those on board the Pioneer Flight, applauded, cheered, jumped for joy, hugged one another … and cried. Family members in particular were deeply moved, knowing that their loved ones’ dreams of spaceflight have now been fulfilled.
After launch, a number of dignitaries addressed the crowd in a huge tent erected for the occasion. Celestis family members and Celestis CEO Charles Chafer were interviewed. Vendors sold breakfast and drinks to the hundreds of people gathered for this historic event.
Eventually, we boarded our vans for the return trip to the Elephant Butte Inn. A number of us slept on the way back: We had boarded the vans at 3:00 am for the trip to Spaceport America. Upon our arrival at the Elephant Butte Inn, family members again thanked Celestis staff for a successful – and truly meaningful – way of memorializing their loved ones.
We were truly honored to have their loved ones aboard the Pioneer Flight.