Remains, science experiments among passengers in Spaceport America launch to space

Remains, science experiments among passengers in Spaceport America launch to space
Spaceport America
Friday, June 21, 2013 - 5:38pm

History took flight at Spaceport America Friday as the remains of dozens of people were launched into space.

Those remains weren't all that was aboard Friday's rocket. The science experiments of dozens of area kids were also launched into the sky.

"3...2....1 lift off!"" 

Hundreds of people gathered at sunrise to watch as NASA launched a rocket into space. It was part of the flight opportunities program which gives students and private companies a chance to fly their experiments into space.

But for some, its more then just an experiment. It was a chance for families to fulfill a loved one's last wish as the remains of 34 people were aboard Friday's rocket. 

It was a bittersweet morning for Marcia Nordike, who sent her husband's ashes into space. A longtime mayor of Hatch, Judd Nordyke was a big supporter of Spaceport America. He died from cancer in April.

"Spread his ashes out there on that desert, that's his desert anyway," she said.

Earl Mills honored his son Bobby.

"My son liked space and he was a texas aerospace scholar," Mills said. "What better place to put him than up in the sky, up in space."

Bobby's mother said it was a cathartic and emotional experience.

"He gave a lot of himself to everybody, anybody he came in contact with. He was a real gentle spirit," she said. 

The launch was a way for family members to remember loved ones lost, but it was also an opportunity for students to look towards the future.

Two Las Cruces schools got to launch experiments into space.

The rocket reached an altitude of 73 miles. It came back down and families were given back the ashes and students were able to look at how their projects help up in space.

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson said the world's first commerical space flight will depart New Mexico's Spaceport America on christmas day.

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