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About Space Services


Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Space Services is the world leader for commercial space missions.  Since 1981, Space Services' list of firsts is unmatched and includes the world's first ever private rocket launch, the Conestoga 1.  Today, Space Services is consistently profiled among the leaders of the emerging “new space” age.


Whether through innovative consumer products that bring space to a global audience, next generation technologies that enable new applications and industries, or the development of uniquely new markets of traditional and non-traditional customers, Space Services is truly a pioneer of the modern commercial space age.


Space Services is the brand name of Space Services Holdings, Inc., which includes the iconic Celestis, Inc. and Solar Sail Technologies, Inc., the exclusive commercial partner for NASA’s Sunjammer solar sail mission.  Led by Conestoga 1 team member Charles M. Chafer, Space Services’ record of leadership on innovative private participation space missions includes over a dozen projects, with more currently in development. 


“Space Services - Pioneering the Future” was the company’s bold proclamation as Conestoga 1 reached outer space from a private launch pad on Matagorda Island in 1982.  Today, the Space Services family of companies continues to blaze new trails in public participation space missions and is the industry standard for public-private cooperation in the development and exploration of space.


The Space Services Family of Companies


Our Heritage: The Dawn of the Commercial Space Age


Space Services Inc. of America (SSIA), the heritage company of today’s Space Services, was founded in 1981 by Houston real estate developer David Hannah, Jr.  More than 50 investors, including many fellow Texans, joined him to pursue the promise of opening space to the free market.


In 1982, under the direction of retired Mercury and Apollo-Soyuz astronaut Donald K. ”Deke” Slayton, SSIA launched the first privately-funded rocket to reach outer space, the Conestoga 1.  The Conestoga launch made headlines around the world and blazed new trails for a generation of commercial space industry entrepreneurs.


Conestoga 1 required unprecedented action by industry and government actors to enable what was previously the sole province of sovereign nations.  In a single year, investors were assembled, a surplus Minuteman 2 rocket was licensed by NASA, a dozen federal agencies granted regulatory approval, media and event teams were assembled, and a launch site was constructed on a remote Texas island.  The result was a successful and historic mission broadcasted to a fascinated public worldwide.


Congratulations poured in from around the globe.  President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush, whose administration created the Office of Commercial Space, called to share their excitement.  Author James Michener compared the launch to the dawn of aviation at Kitty Hawk.  Congress, after receiving testimony from Hannah and Slayton, enacted the Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 and the Land Remote Sensing Commercialization Act of 1984 to establish the regulatory framework that governs the commercial launch and imagery industries.


SSIA went on to accomplish more industry firsts, including:


  • The first agreement with NASA to use a national range for commercial launches at Wallops Island, Virginia;

  • The first NASA purchase of a commercial launch service, the Consort/Starfire series;

  • Creation of the first commercial imagery company, Space America;

  • The first application to the Federal Communications Commission to establish a low earth orbit network of communications satellites.


SSIA was sold to EER Systems in 1989.  EER continued the Starfire and Conestoga launch service lines through the mid 1990s. 


SSIA’s corporate papers now reside at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C., and, through a donation to the Rice University Woodson Center, are currently being archived with the intention of making them available to scholars worldwide.


1994 to the Present


Celestis, Inc.


Celestis Inc., founded in 1994, pioneered new territory in the commercial space industry when it conducted history’s first memorial spaceflight in 1997.  On this historic mission, the company launched a portion of the cremated remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Princeton physicist Gerard K. O’Neill, 1960s icon Timothy Leary, and 21 others into space aboard a Pegasus rocket from Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.  The mission was covered by media around the world including a live global broadcast by CNN and lead stories in all major news outlets.


In 1999, NASA asked Celestis to assist in honoring Dr. Eugene Shoemaker as the first person memorialized on the Moon.  In 2015, Celestis will launch its first mission to deep space as a payload aboard NASA’s Sunjammer solar sail mission.  With more than a dozen missions accomplished since its first launch, Celestis is the global leader in providing this unique and compelling service to families from twenty nations.


Celestis Memorial Spaceflight services appeal to adventurers, astronomers, science fiction enthusiasts, and anyone who has ever viewed a starry night and thought, “That is where I belong.”  Celestis is currently extending its global distributor network and space mission manifest to meet the rising demand for this unique, personal, environmentally sensitive, and surprisingly affordable celebration of life.


Name A Star Live


“Everyone loves to have a star named for them.”  The simple elegance of this symbolic act is the basis for Space Services’ highly successful Name A Star Live product line.


Name A Star Live combines the ancient tradition of star naming with humanity’s most stunning technological achievement—spaceflight—to create the ultimate interactive gift experience.  All Name A Star Live gift sets include a complimentary message aboard Celestis spacecraft and the excitement of participating in a real space mission, including an opportunity to attend their launch.


Many Name A Star Live gift sets include our Virtual Planetarium software, developed in conjunction with Rice University, to further engage participants in the beauty and science of space.  Additionally, our staff astronomer is available to assist customers with selection, visibility, and other questions related to space and their personal star.


The Name A Star product line serves customers from New Zealand and Hong Kong to Europe and the Middle East.  It is truly a product that brings the world together through our common heritage of the stars!


Solar Sail Technologies, Inc.


Solar Sail Technologies, Inc. holds the exclusive commercial rights to the Sunjammer mission, NASA's first solar sail mission to deep space and the largest sail ever flown.  Sunjammer is scheduled for launch in 2015, at which time it will demonstrate solar sails' potential for a variety of propulsion, communication, and monitoring applications.


Sunjammer will carry advanced solar monitoring equipment capable of providing Earth with its earliest warning yet of potentially devastating solar storms.  Additionally, it will travel to deep space with the Cosmic Archive, a space-borne time capsule containing photos, messages, and even the unique biological signatures of people all over the world. serves as “mission control” for the global public to participate in this historic mission and for sponsoring companies and institutions to interact with an engaged and supportive public.


Advanced Space Division


The Advanced Space Division of Space Services serves as a technology and business incubator, providing strategic planning, capital assistance, and business development leadership for promising opportunities of interest.  The ASD is active in commercial space weather, nano-launch, and beyond Earth orbit mission opportunities.

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