SpaceX launch will send cremated remains of loved ones into space on Wednesday

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Families from around the country will be watching SpaceX’s upcoming ride-share mission tomorrow with special interest.

That’s because it’s also a memorial flight.

On Wednesday, SpaceX will launch its latest ride-share mission, Transporter-5, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Among the numerous small satellites headed into orbit is a Celestis memorial spaceflight mission, called the “Ascension Flight.”


Celestis is set to fly a portion of the cremated remains of 47 people into space.

“Participants will be launched into Earth orbit with a satellite. They’ll stay attached to that satellite that orbits the Earth for at least a decade,” said Celestis CEO and co-founder Charles Chafer.

On Tuesday, those families held a memorial service to honor their loved ones before tomorrow’s mission.

Read: Brevard family honors a loved one, plans to launch his remains into space

A small portion of Marjorie Dufton’s cremated remains will be making the trip. Her son Michael told Channel 9 she was a trailblazer.

“She had been invited to participate in the women’s space program for the Mercury Program back in the early 60s. Before she was actually able to get into the program itself, they disbanded the entire women’s program. That was one of her biggest disappointments in life although she went on to achieve many, many, things. She was a real adventurer. And this is my way of fulfilling that last wish,” said Michael Dufton.

Read: Texas school shooting live updates: 14 students, 1 teacher, gunman dead in Uvalde

Melissa Teston hopes to do the same for her brother, Derek Yanes. The Tampa native would watch the Florida skies for rocket launches. Yanes was born with a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia that kept him from joining the space program.

“While he never would have met the physical capabilities of an earthly astronaut, he’s able to become a heavenly astronaut,” said Teston.

Read: Check your ticket: Unclaimed Florida Lottery ticket worth $100K set to expire in a week

For families, flights range from about $2,500 to $12,000, depending on the journey.

Wednesday’s launch is scheduled to lift off at 2:35 p.m.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.