Salvation on the Wings of a Space Shuttle – Part I

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Space Shuttle Program –

I’ve had a fascination with the US space shuttle program since its beginning. I’ve also been keen on space travel in general most of my life. It may have been as early as the 1960’s when my brother and I stood in our front yard and watched a strange event. Three sets of lights sped at unimaginable speeds across the vast night sky in Kansas. The lights changed and reversed its course instantly like billiard balls careening off rubber bumpers. They raced in all directions then shot upward and out of sight. It was an Unimaginable Fascinating Occurrence.

Next to man first stepping onto the surface of the moon, I believe the Space Shuttle program has been humanities greatest achievements in exploration. If you’re not sure of its significance, consider sitting between two solid rocket boosters filled with liquid hydrogen producing 2.8 million lbf of thrust. You’ll reach a speed of 17,500 mph just to achieve earth orbit. Then, after spending days, weeks or months circling the earth, you’ll have to glide 100 ton craft powerless for a landing that could be compared to landing a nickel on a meter of twine stretched taut.

Space Shuttle Challenger

I was fortunate to see the space shuttle Challenger STS-6 land at Edwards Air Force base in 1983. A greater reward was to pray with a man at the landing site to receive Jesus.

Several years later, I landed a job on the first Tron movie. My primary job was to put reflective tape on the interior ‘tank’ vehicle. The tape, set against a flat black background, was made to look like electronic circuits once it had been computerized. When the production designed found out (by my not-so-subtle hints) that I was a scenic artist, I was given the assignment to paint one of the arcade boxes. If you watch the movie and can pick out this console through the heavy fog on the set, let me know. I haven’t found it yet:-)

I was on stage at Walt Disney Studios on January 28, 1986 when the Challenger shuttle was to launch. There were a bunch of space junkies on stage, so we had a large television tuned in. As the launch countdown approached, we all stopped our work and gathered around the TV. Cheers erupted along with the rocket boosters. Then silence fell on the stage as we watched the trail of vapor and smoke split into a ‘Y’ about a minute after launch.

We watched just long enough to learn that the worst had occurred; the shuttle had exploded. ‘The show must go on’ is not just a Hollywood cliche, it’s a tinseltown lifestyle. We went back to work, but aside from hammers and saws, the set was like a silent movie for the remainder of the day.

While the Challenger disaster remains a sad chapter in the space shuttle legacy, I will also associate the Challenger with the life given to Christ at one of its touch-downs.

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