What Families Are Saying

Celestis memorial spaceflights provide meaningful ways for families and friends to honor the memory of a loved one.  Whether they attend our launch-related activities in person or watch via webcast, families find the Celestis experience to be emotionally moving and fulfilling.

Below are just some of the comments made by family members of those on board The New Frontier Flight, launched into Earth orbit on May 22, 2012 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Those who traveled to Florida to view the launch in person also had the opportunity to view the rocket on its launch pad from the vantage point of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center,  and participate in our memorial service for those on board the flight.

Celestis New Frontier Flight Memorial Service
Attendees at the Celestis New Frontier Flight Memorial Service. Photos of each person on board the flight, together with their names and personal flight messages, were displayed on the screen at left.

Dear Christiana,

Now we have come to an end.  Mark’s ashes are orbiting and 5 years have passed since we started this journey together.

I remember first talking with you, getting information about the process of sending ashes into space. You were so understanding and compassionate as I vented and cried and told the story of how I came to be doing this.  You grieved along with me.

Astronaut Jon McBride speaks at the memorial service
Astronaut Jon McBride speaking at the memorial service

There are no words to express fully how much I appreciated you during those early days.  You became a trusted friend and helped me navigate through some tough decisions. You may not know that you did these things, but during our conversations I gained some measure of strength and found that I could get through all manner of difficult days.

Christiana, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  For extending your friendship to me, for keeping me in the Celestis loop of information, for caring enough to search and actually find me after I had re-married and changed my name and address. I can’t believe you did that!

You are an amazing asset to Celestis and a friend to all the family members you come in contact with every day.  I wish you Love & Blessings always

Johanna Wallace Mitchell  (Joey)

P.S.  I still think we should meet someday.


Family members speak at the memorial service
Family members share their thoughts at the memorial service

Bravo to you all this is the very best of news that  my loved one has now accomplished the dream to go into space.  For me it came at the anniversary of when my wife left this world six years ago almost to the day (May 21, 2006), making it extremely special.  This is a next step for all to help move forward in space travel for mankind!  Will be waiting for more news about the orbit and be able to track their orbit and go out in the night and look up and say there they go overhead.

Thanks again.

John Seaton


This has been soooooooo much fun! I’m so glad my father was able to be a part of this historic mission.

Gina Whitt


Families in procession
At the end of the memorial service, families and friends walked to a nearby river where they laid flowers in memory of their loved ones.

I cannot express how thrilled my family is about the launch.  It is truly a wonderful day.  We watched from our homes but we celebrated with the entire Celestis and New Frontier family.  Thank you, a million times over, for this opportunity.  This was the only idea about which Dad showed any enthusiasm as we talked with him about his memorial service – and oh, the enthusiasm he had for this.

Katharine Stewart


New Frontier Flight liftoff
Families viewed the nighttime launch in person or by webcast. Image Credit: NASA

We, at Celestis, thank all of the families and friends who have written us!  We will never forget joining many of you in the pre-dawn darkness of May 22 to watch the spectacular launch from Jetty Park, located just 10.3 miles from the launch pad. As the rocket lifted its precious cargo of New Frontier Flight participants into the night sky, the spirits of all of us at Jetty Park lifted as well. The brilliant light of the rocket’s powerful engines resembled the light of a very bright star rising ever so gracefully into the stars above. The crowd reacted with a joyful mix of applause, cheers, handshakes, hugs, and tears: Their loved ones’ dreams of spaceflight had come true. Those of you who joined us virtually, via the launch webcast, were also with us in spirit.

Click here to read more about the New Frontier Flight, view video of the launch, read about the people on board, and track the satellite as it orbits Earth.

Click here to view a touching television interview with one of The New Frontier Flight families.

Singer-songwriter album given to Celestis

Celestis was recently given a gift in the form of music. Susan VanWarmer, wife of participant Randy VanWarmer, sent a newly released compilation album of her husband’s work in thanks and support of our mission. The album is called “Just When I Needed You Most,” also a hit single song in 1979, and contains nine never released recordings of songs found on rehearsal tapes in his studio.

Randy VanWarmer
Randy VanWarmer

Randy always carried the dream of becoming an astronaut. It shows in his songwriting with the song called “I’m Gonna Build Me a Rocket.” It also shows on the cover of his Terraform album; he’s wearing an Apollo 11 suit. Susan was able to fulfill his dream of crossing over into space and Randy was a participant on both the Explorers and Legacy flights and is also a participant on the upcoming New Frontier Flight.

Every quote in the liner notes, every description of friendship, described what a warm, thoughtful person Randy was, that he was a best friend to all. “Randy had a way of looking right into your eyes, that made you feel important,” said his friend Roger Earl.

The first song, #1 hit “I’m In A Hurry (And I Don’t Know Why)” will have your toes tapping the moment it starts playing. “Time and Money” stands out as well, with its rich, sassy saxophone lines and backup vocals. It’s reminiscent of The Commitments, the band from the movie of the same name. “There’s A Rhythm” also features some wonderful harmonies but with a more free-flowing feel that puts the listener in mind of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

What most striking about this album is its overall versatility. Some songs have a more country or folk feel, like John Denver, while some have that electronic, poppy feel not uncommon in the 80s. Randy’s voice comes through clearly and beautifully in every style. His style never sounds like imitation, but an honest and true representation of his talents.

You can read his full bio here and visit his website here. We’d like to say “thank you” to Susan vanWarmer for sending this album to us and sharing the music of Randy VanWarmer.

Honoring Naval Aviation and All Veterans

Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue
A rescue at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard.

This year we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation, and honor the aviators and support personnel who have served in the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. In fact, Celestis would simply like to say ‘thank you’ to all the men and women who have served in any of the military branches around the world.

The rigorous and exacting training it takes to serve in naval aviation has paved a direct road into other aerospace careers. In fact, the first seven astronauts, known as both the “Original Seven” and “Astronaut Group 1,” were all test pilots in the military before they earned a place with NASA. Several of the participants aboard The New Frontier Flight made their way through the military into a lifetime career in aerospace.

Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper
Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper

One of these Original Seven will be entering into Earth’s orbit one last time. L. Gordon Cooper, who became the first man to sleep in space while he orbited the earth 22 times on NASA’s Mercury 9 flight, will be on our New Frontier Flight. He started out in the Marine Corps before working in other branches of the armed forces.

William Reuel Barnett, Jr. joined the Navy after graduating high school. After his time with them he continued his education and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. “The Quiet Man of Rocket Engines” would work on such projects as the top secret B-58 Hustler Project and the “Pluto Project.” Never once did an engine of his design and installed under his direction fail during takeoff.

Another mechanical engineer, Albert (Bert) Fabre, was first an apprentice moulder in the Royal Naval Dockyard. Astronomy was one of his hobbies and cold nights didn’t deter him from aiming his telescope skywards.

William Paul Peterson
William Paul Peterson

For others, a simple love of space and flight kept on after serving. William Paul Peterson served in the Air Force. Science fiction and the idea of time travel fascinated him; this memorial spaceflight will be his third memorial service.

We look forward to our next space mission, The New Frontier Flight, as a way to honor these veterans and many others. We invite you to read the stories of our New Frontier Flight participants. For more information about events nationwide for the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation visit www.navalaviation100.org.

Finally, we also express our thanks in a very tangible way by extending a 10% discount off of our various memorial spaceflight services to veterans of all nations and branches of service.

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Museum Exhibit Honors Celestis Participant

An exhibit in the Tulsa Air and Space Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma honors those who have journeyed into the sky. From the very beginnings of flight and wooden aircraft to the sophisticated metal crafts of the space age those who have reached the sky are honored.

Greg Brown
Gregory Brown

One part of the exhibit is of especial mention. This particular installation debuted on July 2, 2008 and is dedicated to the life and dreams of a young boy named Gregory Brown, the first Oklahoman in space. Born December 31, 1984 his mother described him as a smiley and silly baby. As he grew up to be a boy who loved anything to do with science fiction, NASA, space, the shuttle program, Star Wars… all of it. Legos were one of his favorite tools to build the models of the rockets and planes he so admired.

When he was just 14, Greg died of complications from his leukemia treatments. His mother, September Brown, knew that a Celestis space burial was the right choice for her son. Greg is now orbiting earth on board The Millennial Flight which was successfully launched on December 20, 1999.

Nine years later the exhibit in Tulsa would open. The display highlights his love of space, his fight with leukemia and the tributes he was paid after his death. Fitting for one who loved space, the display is full of artifacts from those who helped his dream become a reality.

Launch Pad Photo
Millennial Flight family members pose by the launch vehicle.

There’s a letter from his bone marrow donor, a member of the US Navy, officially stating that part of his remains had been buried at sea. His mother had contacted the donor, asking him to quietly disperse a portion of the ashes into the ocean. He went further and Greg was honored not just in private but with full honors, the crew turned out in their dress blues.

A letter and patch from the Navy commemorate his status as an honorary VR-1 Squadron Star Lifter member, a squad that had been entrusted with the transport of Congressman C.W. Bill Young.

There’s a letter from that same Congressman Young. He and his wife Beverly personally carried his donor marrow to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, touched by the Brown family’s struggle.

The display also contains some of Greg’s own model rockets that he didn’t just build but flew as well. There’s a teddy bear signed by his family, given to him for his bone marrow transplant. Several baseball caps adorn the display, two of them signed by astronauts and another by a tennis champion who is also dedicated to fighting cancer in children.

The balance of the display chronicles the launch of Greg’s cremated remains by Celestis. The process started with transfer of the cremated remains to the flight module, 90 days before the launch, and the integration of the Celestis craft onto the rocket. It was an Orbital Sciences Corporation Taurus rocket that took Greg to space. The Taurus team themselves honored the Brown family by choosing to sign the rocket “Greg Brown / To Infinity And Beyond,” under the Celestis logo.

And, aptly placed, the picture of Greg holding one of his model airplanes is right next to a picture of The Millennial Flight during takeoff in all its blaze of glory.

You can read more about Greg on the Celestis Web site and you can track The Millennial Flight’s orbit in real time here.

What Families Are Saying

Below are words from family members of Celestis Memorial Spaceflight participants, discussing their loved ones or expressing their feelings about our service.  We will post more testimonials in the future.

Majel Roddenberry
Majel Roddenberry

“This may be your final frontier. It’s a symbolic gesture, but it’s a celebration, more than anything. You ask yourself ‘What did a person love the most?’ If there is a spirit hanging around, where would he be the happiest? I know where Gene’s would be the happiest.” – Majel Barrett Roddenberry, quoted in “For 24 Dearly Departed, a Rocket Trip Around the World,” by Frank Arthens.  Note that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was a participant on board Celestis’ first memorial spaceflight, The Founders Flight.  Both Gene and Majel will fly on our next Voyager deep space mission.

James McEachern
James McEachern

“Not long before he passed away he did admit the only dream that did not come true was to make it into space. I told him that somehow and someday I would try to make his last wish and dream come true. Thankfully I discovered Celestis and with their help JD’s dream will come true.” — The son of James McEachern, quoted from his father’s biography.

Alfred Floyd Turner
Alfred Floyd Turner

“We were able to fulfill our brother’s wish. It was like our last gift to him… For the last 30 seconds of the countdown, I was shaking. We were just so excited we brought him to that moment. It was so worth it” – Crystal Warren, sister of Alfred Turner,  quoted in “Family comforted as ashes mingle with stars,” an article in The News-Leader (Springfield, Missouri).  Alfred Turner was a participant on board The Legacy Flight, an Earth Rise Service mission, and will be on board our upcoming New Frontier Flight, an Earth Orbit Service mission.

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