Memorial Spaceflights

Frequently Asked Questions About Celestis DNA

Am I permitted to view the launch?

Yes. Celestis will host you at a special facility we create for launch viewing. For those honoring a deceased loved one with the mission, an on-site memorial service will be conducted in advance of the launch where friends and families can meet other attendees and share memories of their departed loved ones.

Celestis provides these services as part of the Celestis DNA™ package. Travel, lodging, and all incidental costs are borne by the attendees. Celestis provides these services on a “best efforts” basis, as launch schedules and launch site security status are beyond our control. We work closely with all attendees to keep them fully informed of the latest launch news.

Launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida

What if I am unable to attend the launch: Is there a video record available?

Yes. We are often able to provide a live, global webcast of the launch, depending on the launch facility we use. In all cases we produce a video of the launch. A copy of the video is included in the Celestis DNA service package. Additional copies are available at a nominal fee.

Can I track the Celestis Earth-orbiting spacecraft?

Yes. Click here to view the location of any of the Earth-orbiting Celestis memorial spacecraft in real time.

Satellite ground trace

How are the DNA samples actually launched?

The samples are placed in a specially designed, individual flight capsule that contains genetic material extracted by CG Labs, depending upon the service you selected. The samples are then integrated into the Celestis spacecraft, which is attached to the rocket or primary payload and launched into space.

For the Earth Orbit Service, how long will the DNA samples stay in Earth orbit?  

The length of orbital stay depends on the final altitude of the primary satellite launched on the mission (each Celestis spacecraft is a “secondary payload” aboard each mission). For example, the orbital life span for Celestis satellites has ranged from five weeks to several hundred years. The anticipated orbital lifetime for each mission is posted on the dedicated flight webpage, after its launch.

Does the service create orbital debris pollution?

Celestis spacecraft are carefully designed so as not to create orbital debris. Each Earth Orbit Service spacecraft stays permanently attached to a rocket stage, or primary payload, that orbits Earth until the spacecraft harmlessly re-enters and is completely consumed by Earth’s atmosphere.

For missions that are launched aboard a commercially purchased launcher, the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration issues a license that verifies that the Celestis payload does not contribute to orbital debris. For missions not subject to FAA approval, Celestis voluntarily follows the same guidelines that prevent orbital pollution from its missions.

Satellite in Earth orbit

Space launches are challenging. What if the mission is not achieved?

In the event the mission is not achieved, you will have the option for a priority re-flight, at no additional cost, on the next scheduled launch of the same service type.  

I want to be certain that my wishes are carried out after my passing. Can I plan my service in advance?

Yes, you may select our Advance Planning Programs that offer you the opportunity to make an advance reservation for the Celestis DNA service. Contact us for more information.

How is the sample collected?

Once you contract with Celestis, you, or your funeral home will receive a DNA sampling kit in the mail. The sample is collected by completely non-invasive methods. A sterile cotton swab is rubbed on the inner cheek several times and then allowed to air dry. This swab is then sealed and mailed to CG Labs where technicians will extract the DNA (separate it from rest of the cell components), purify it (remove any enzymes or chemicals that may damage it), stabilize it and preserve it to halt the DNA's natural degradation process. Using CG Lab's proprietary method the DNA is bound very tightly to a substrate reinforcing its structure. The end product resembles a fine, white, dry powder.

Does the sample need to be collected from a cheek swab?

No, but the cheek swab yields high amounts of DNA.  CG Labs can also extract the DNA from hair or skin samples. With hair, ensure that several body hairs are collected and that these hairs still have the root attached.  Alternatively, a light scraping of the skin will result in a sufficient amount of skin cells to extract the DNA. Detailed instructions for all of CG Labs' collection methods are provided. [Note that Richard changed "are available" in the text from CG Labs' FAQ section to "are provided".]

How long will the DNA stored in the Home DNA Banking kit last? Will it eventually degrade?

Under CG Lab's storage conditions, the DNA will last indefinitely. CG Labs' researched and proprietary methods of halting the degradation process allows for room temperature storage and banking indefinitely.


How long will the DNA stored in space last? Will it eventually degrade?

DNA has survived spaceflights that have flown to space and returned to Earth. NASA scientists have confirmed that DNA is durable enough to survive the conditions of space and even withstand the extreme heat and pressures of entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

When DNA gets banked or put into a keepsake, what is involved in researching it further?

If a person decides that genetic analysis is necessary the DNA can be sent to qualified and specific labs.  CG Labs will help facilitate the process. Preserved DNA provides families the comfort of a continuous option for genetic analysis, if and when required.  Prices and types of genetic tests improve every year, making DNA preservation an investment.

Who has access to the DNA?

Commonly, DNA is returned to the family making it a home based private genetic record.  CG Labs and Celestis will not test, share or even acknowledge the existence of the account to any outside agencies for any reason including law enforcement. We are building our reputation on strictest confidentiality and quality of service.

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