SpaceX Launches the Dragon! and My dad's ashes!

COTS Demo Flight 2 is the second test-flight for SpaceX's uncrewed Dragon cargo spacecraft, Dragon C2+, and the third overall flight for the company's two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon C2+ flight was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on 22 May 2012. It is expected to be the first American vehicle to visit the International Space Station (ISS) since the end of the Space Shuttle program, and the first commercial spacecraft ever to rendezvous and be berthed with another spacecraft. The flight is under contract to NASA as the second Dragon mission in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) phase one program. The purpose of the COTS program is to develop and demonstrate commercial sources for cargo re-supply of the ISS.

Initially, the mission was to carry out a fly-by of the ISS, practice rendezvous maneuvers and berthing communications, and return to Earth. In July 2011, NASA gave tentative approval for combining the objectives of COTS 2 and COTS Demo Flight 3 into one flight. The mission will first test rendezvous techniques and communications between Dragon and the ISS. If all goes well, then the mission's next phase will include berthing the Dragon to the ISS using the Canadarm2, staying for about a week, and having astronauts unload cargo, and then load it with Earth-bound cargo. It will then be unberthed and return to Earth with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean near the California coast.

In December 2011, NASA formally approved the merger of the COTS 2 and 3 missions into the Dragon C2+ flight. There have been several launch date delays since the mission was announced, most recently on 19 May 2012, due to a launch abort during the last second before liftoff. If all the COTS objectives are successfully completed, then the Falcon 9-Dragon system will be certified to start regular cargo delivery missions to the ISS.

Celestis, Inc., the pioneer and global leader in Memorial Spaceflight and subsidiary of Space Services, Inc. (Houston, Texas), announced today the successful launch of its latest Memorial Spaceflight – The New Frontier Flight

The New Frontier Flight is dedicated to the spirit of the 320 mission participants and to people everywhere who share the passion for exploration and discovery. The spacecraft carries a symbolic portion of the cremated remains of each flight participant in Earth orbit.  Among the people aboard this mission are 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.

My Father's page on Celestis's website can be found here

Celestis missions are environmentally friendly in that no cremated remains are released into space.  Each Celestis spacecraft stays permanently attached to a rocket stage that orbits Earth until the spacecraft harmlessly re-enters and is completely consumed by Earth’s atmosphere — blazing likea shooting star in final tribute to the passengers aboard. The New Frontier Flight joins two other Celestis satellites currently orbiting our planet.  In addition to its Earth orbit service, Celestis offers missions to the Moon, into deep space, and on trajectories that launch the cremated remains into space and return them to Earth.

“The celebrities and everyday people who participate in our various missions all shared in the dream of exploring the great unknown,” said Charles Chafer, CEO of Celestis.  “With Celestis, the dream of spaceflight, and the desire to take part in the opening of the space frontier can be realized – and is available to everyone.  ”

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