51L : LOST
Limited Edition Serigraphs
They 'slipped the surly bonds of Earth' to 'touch the face of God.'
Teachers in Space began as a government project. On August 27, 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced he was “directing NASA to begin a search in all of our elementary and secondary schools and to choose, as the first citizen passenger in the history of our space program, one of America’s finest—a teacher.” In that way, Reagan said, “All of America will be reminded of the crucial role that teachers and education play in the life of our nation. I can’t think of a better lesson for our children and our country.”
More than 11,000 teachers answered the call, each of them filling out a 25-page application that took 160 hours to complete. In July of 1985, NASA chose New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe to be the first Teacher in Space
Sadly, Christa McAuliffe was not destined to become the first teacher in space. On January 28, 1986, the Shuttle Challenger (OV-099) (mission STS-51-L) experienced the worst disaster in the nation’s space history when a flaw in the Shuttle’s solid rocket booster caused the vehicle to break up just 73 seconds into flight. The seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, perished.
During the ceremony, an Air Force band led the singing of "God Bless America" as NASA T-38 Talon jets flew directly over the scene, in the traditional missing-man formation
History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a beach ball (58 cm.or 22.8 inches in diameter), weighed only 83.6 kg. or 183.9 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race.
Then the Soviets struck again; on November 3, Sputnik II was launched, carrying a much heavier payload, including a dog named Laika.
At the time J. Neil was a high school student in Pennsylvania. The movie “October Sky” released in 1999, actually mirrors his experience with rocketry, where the team of boys J. Neil was working with sent rockets up higher than the U.S Government. Then the government shut them down stating it was too dangerous.
October Sky is based on fact, this is the story of a teenager named Homer Hickam, growing up in a coal town in West Virginia where a boy's usual destiny was to "end up in the mines." But Homer had his eye on the sky and a love for flying rockets... to the dismay of his mine-foreman father, and the consternation of the townsfolk generally. A misfit for sure, he and three of his equally outcast buddies begin making rockets, which they fly from a patch of barren land eight miles out of town... so as to no longer terrorize the community with their oft-times errant rockets. However, the people become intrigued and soon start coming out in droves to watch the 'Rocketboys' send off their homemade missiles, and with the enthusiastic support of Miss Riley, their teacher, plus a signed picture from Wernher von Braun in response to a question Homer had written him, they finally are entered in the National Science Awards competition. But none of this was all that easy, especially for Homer, as problems much more dire than flying rockets seemed to push the young man toward maturity, as well as to his eventual destiny... as an instructor of our shuttle mission astronauts.
President Regan said “sometimes, when we reach for the stars, we fall short. But we must pick ourselves up again and press on despite the pain.”
Connecticut Magazine published an article on 51L : LOST and The White House wanted 51L : LOST to be donated as part of their collection. The Senator from Oklahoma and Lowell Weicker, the Senator from Connecticut offered me an Invitational One Man Show at the Russell Senate Rotunda in Washington, D.C.