Titanic Explorer Among Those on Celestis Memorial Flight

Ralph White
Ralph White


Award-winning cinematographer Ralph White, who documented the wreck of the Titanic, will be among 16 people who will have their ashes launched into space on May 2.

UP Aerospace’s Spaceloft XL suborbital rocket will carry the remains to an altitude of 70 miles above New Mexico’s Spaceport America. The payload will land by parachute for recovery.

Celestis, a Texas company that specializes in memorial space flights, booked cargo space on the rocket. The company previously sent the ashes of astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper and Star Trek actor James “Scotty” Doohan on a suborbital flight from the same location.

White is the most prominent individual to be memorialized on next month’s launch, which Celestis is dubbing the Discovery Flight.  He enjoyed a distinguished professional career as an award-winning cinematographer, video cameraman and editor, with over 30 years of production experience and hundreds of motion picture and television credits to his name.

In 1985, he documented the expedition that found the wreck of the RMS Titanic, and in 1987 and 2000, he co-directed the salvage operation and photography during the recovery of over 5,000 artifacts from Titanic’s debris field.

He was the submersible cameraman for the 1991 IMAX feature film Titanica, and in 1995-96, he was the expedition leader and second unit cameraman for James Cameron’s Academy Award winning feature film, Titanic. Overall he made 35 dives to the 12,000 foot deep wreck of the Titanic.

“Ralph’s wish was for his ashes to be scattered all over the world by his friends and fellow adventurers,” said Ralph White’s fiancée, Rosaly Lopes. “His ashes have already been to all continents, but his friend Reda Anderson has done the ultimate by sending him into space.”

The Discovery Flight will place a symbolic portion of the cremated remains of Ralph White and other flight participants into space on a suborbital trajectory similar to NASA’s early Mercury manned spaceflights in the 1960s.

This “Earth Rise Service” mission will launch flight capsules and modules into space and return them to Earth via parachute recovery. Once recovered the Celestis capsules and modules will be returned to family members and loved ones, providing them with a flown keepsake.

“Ralph White epitomized the spirit of adventure and discovery that Celestis represents,” said Charles Chafer, CEO of Celestis. “The celebrities and everyday people who participate in our various missions all shared in the dream of exploring the great unknown.

“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. Further, the dramatic breakthrough in the cost to reach space presented by the Spaceloft XL launch vehicle has allowed Celestis to offer the lowest-priced memorial spaceflight ever – our Earth Rise Service.”

This new launch vehicle is a single stage sub-orbital rocket, capable of carrying 110 pounds into space, 70 miles above the surface of the earth. The rocket also will carry a number of microgravity experiments.

“UP Aerospace is honored to have been chosen by Celestis to provide the launch of their Earth Rise Service,” said Jerry Larson, President of UP Aerospace, Inc. “Our long term commitments with Spaceport America and Celestis are essential elements that are enabling huge growth of this new emerging commercialization of space industry.”

Larson continued, “The launch of the Celestis spacecraft into space will set another milestone in space travel for New Mexico and establish this mission as perhaps one of the most memorable events ever flown from the Spaceport.”

In addition to its Earth Rise Service, Celestis also offers missions into Earth orbit, to the Moon, and into deep space.