Eileen Collins "One Small Step...for a Woman" 16" x 20"
Original: Acrylic and Water Color on Mat Board
On display in City Hall, Elmira, New York
Timothy Alan Neil Gagnon, 1999
Thirty years after men first landed on the Moon, another ship named Columbia was launched to deliver the latest in NASA’s “Great Observatories”, the Chandra X-Ray Telescope on mission STS-93. For the first time in the history of human space exploration the person in command of the flight was a woman, Colonel Eileen M. Collins, USAF.
Collins was chosen as an astronaut as part of Group 13 in 1990. She flew as a pilot on two previous space shuttle missions; STS-63 in 1995 and STS-84 in 1997. Colonel Collins is shown in the orange launch and entry suit worn by all shuttle crew members since 1988. Adorning the suit are the US Flag, a USAF Name Badge and the STS-93 mission patch. She is standing in front of past mission commanders ready to assume her place in history. Representing the scope of NASA “manned” programs they are:
• Project Mercury – John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. Ask any Mercury astronaut and they will tell you that they were in command of their spacecraft.
• Project Gemini – John Young. The first man to fly six times, twice in Gemini, twice in Apollo and twice on the shuttle. Apollo 16 Moon walker and Commander of STS-1 the first shuttle mission.
• Project Apollo – Neil Armstrong. Commanded Gemini 8 the first docking mission. Commander of Apollo 11, first man to walk on the Moon.
• Shuttle Program 1981-1984 – Robert Crippen. Piloted the first mission of the shuttle program, STS-1 and the first man to command three shuttle missions, twice in 1984.
• Shuttle Program 1985-1991 – Fred Gregory. First African-American to pilot the shuttle and first to command a mission.
Behind Col. Collins are two views of low earth orbit. On the left over a sunlit Earth we the re-entry of a Mercury spacecraft, a Gemini spacecraft about to dock with the Agena target vehicle and a fiery contrail from the Earth to the Moon with six bright spots on the surface representing the six lunar landings of the Apollo Program.
On the right is the shuttle Columbia preparing to deploy the Chandra X-Ray Telescope which will investigate phenomena like the Trifid Nebula, the Pleiades open star cluster and the brightly glowing Milky Way Galaxy which sweeps across the star filled sky. Representing the goals of future human space exploration are the International Space Station and the planet Mars.
I hope that “One Small Step…for a Woman” will inspire all young people especially girls to believe that dreams can and do come true and to reach for their star.
Tim Gagnon lives with his family in Titusville, FL. He has been painting aerospace views for the past 35 years. You can visit his website at www.kscartist.com