Charles Chafer, Founder & CEO
Charles M. Chafer, is the Chief Executive Officer of Space Services Holdings Inc. and its subsidiaries.
A pioneer of the commercial space age, Chafer began his career while an undergraduate at Georgetown University as an advisor to Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill, the Princeton physicist and author of The High Frontier, who is widely credited as the father of the modern age of space industrialization/colonization. Later, as a faculty member of the Georgetown University Graduate School, he co-authored the book Social Sciences and Space Exploration, a NASA-funded guide, nominated by NASA for the prestigious "Blue Pencil" award for best book published by the Federal Government.
From 1981 through 1989, Chafer was Vice President, Government Affairs and Marketing for Space Services Inc. of America (SSIA)- the Houston-based company that in 1982 conducted the first ever privately funded launch of a rocket into outer space. Under the leadership of successful real estate entrepreneur David Hannah, Jr. and retired Mercury and Apollo/Soyuz astronaut Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, SSIA established a number of "firsts" in the commercial space industry including: 1) first private launch; 2) first mission launch license granted by the Office of Commercial Space Transportation; 3) first purchase by NASA of a commercial launch service; and, 4) first agreement for a private company to utilize a US national launch range.
Called "an inside man, with a talent for making the tumblers of bureaucracy roll" by Texas Monthly, Chafer led a Washington-based team of legal, political, and media experts for SSIA that not only was able to purchase retired Minuteman missile rocket motors from NASA, but also able to create, and assist in the enactment of, landmark legislation that laid the legal and regulatory foundation for today's commercial space industry. The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984 and The Land Remote Sensing Commercialization Act of 1984 remain the cornerstones of today's launch and imagery industries.
In 1994 Chafer co-founded Celestis, Inc, the pioneer and global leader in Memorial Spaceflight Services. Called "a pioneer on the cutting edge" of space commerce by Space News, Chafer and his team have conducted more than a dozen missions to date, placing a symbolic portion of cremated remains from more than 1000 individuals into outer space, Earth orbit, or on the lunar surface - symbolically launching more people than all governments combined since the dawn of the space age. Celestis missions demonstrate a mass market for space, while providing an affordable and uniquely compelling emotional closure for clients from all over the globe.
Today, as CEO of Space Services Holdings, Inc.(SSHI), Chafer oversees a portfolio of commercial space businesses spanning market sectors from consumer to high technology and including partners from Groupon to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. SSHI's unique business model, which combines traditional and non traditional markets into space missions, recently helped the company secure the exclusive commercial rights to NASA's Sunjammer solar sail mission, scheduled for a late 2014 launch.
As a championship debater in high school and college, Chafer learned the value of academic, competitive debate as preparation for any life and career choices. In 2007, he joined with several like minded community members to form the Houston Urban Debate League (HUDL) - a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that created a public/private partnership with the Houston Independent School District to return debate to under served schools throughout Houston. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of HUDL, now in its sixth year serving 1000 high school and middle school students per year by providing tournaments, seminars, summer camp, and scholarships where none existed before.
Chafer is routinely profiled in the global media, has testified on several occasions before the US House and Senate on commercial space issues, served on President Reagan's first-ever White House Working Group on Space Commerce, and is a published author and sought-after speaker. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the "From Vision to Reality" award from the Space Frontier Foundation, the "Pioneer of Business" award from the National Space Society, and the " Innovation Award" from the interactive Video Association. He has personally advised three US Presidents on space commerce.