In February of 1962 our whole school was caught up in the wonder of space exploration. On February 10th the school’s speaker system was tuned to the NASA countdown as astronaut John Glenn was being launched into space. We all stood at the second story window of our Miami, Florida classroom hoping to get a glimpse of the rocket ship. Some of us thought we might have seen a little bit of it. It took nearly five hours for Glenn to orbit the earth three times then splash down in the Atlantic. It was a very tense five hours. John Glenn is now 90 years old. There is no such thing as exploration without risk.

In September of 1966 the first episode of the TV series Star Trek was aired. One of the lessons from that program, which is still referred to today: “Never wear a red shirt on an away mission; you will probably die.” The series about the multi-racial crew of the starship Enterprise was cancelled three years later. In early 1976 NASA announced it was completing a prototype space shuttle that would fit on the top of an airplane. This was done to practice shuttling the shuttle from the west coast to the east coast for alternative landings. A public letter writing campaign led to NASA naming that first space shuttle Enterprise. The Star Trek franchise is now 45 years old. There is no such thing as exploration without risk.

Most 35-year-olds can tell you where they were on January 28, 1986, even if they do not remember the date. That was the morning the space shuttle Challenger exploded on the screens they were watching as a school teacher was heading into space. It was my privilege to have a part in naming a brand new elementary school, with permission of her family and NASA, after Christa McAuliffe in 1989. The family even donated personal and very special items for permanent display at the school. Barbara Morgan actually became the first teacher in space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor in 2007, some 21 years later. There is no such thing as exploration without risk.

Now all of the NASA space shuttles have been retired. Before too long, private and/or corporate astronauts will head back out into space. There is a whole universe around us to explore.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Boldly go. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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