This pro bono illustration was created for June Scobee Rogers’ 25th Anniversary Edition of her book “Silver Linings”. Ms. Scobee Rogers is also the founder of the Challenger Centers. The cover concept was created considering the existing equity of the original book, the new book’s contents and the Challenger Center logo itself. The cover art was brought aboard the last shuttle flight.
As a child, when sleep came, I dreamt vivid dreams; of being a fireman, a carpenter, a sculptor. Many dreams seemed larger, more detailed than life, and many haunted me with their passing.
One such dream I remember well. Standing inside an open shuttle cargo bay, wearing a full space walk suit, I heard these instructions: “have a seat – everything will be taken care of from the control cabin”. Dutifully, I sat and waited. Gazing upward, I stared in wonder at a large, glowing blue and white marbled sphere hovering overhead, so huge that it more than filled the view from behind my visor. I looked around myself, seeing the open cargo bay beneath me, the control cabin behind me, a large rudder at the far end of the bay – everything else a deep, inky black. I could feel an unfathomable emptiness in that black. Within my helmet, the voices of a dozen people speaking all at once, and the famous crackle of Houston control chiming in the foreground.
My suit jets pulsed, and my eyes were torn from that mesmerizing view of our beautiful Earth. Then nothing but weightlessness and silence. The rear tail rudder disappeared beneath me, and that perfect blue that I had stared up into as a child, daydreaming in the green grass, was slowly disappearing from view. I was now in orbit. At that moment, I felt comfort at the thought of all the people who had made this dream possible. They had built an incredible engine of exploration so that I could have this experience. Love brought me here. Tears of gratitude began to flow. I awoke from the dream with real tears on my face.
I was fortunate enough to meet June Scobee Rodgers a second time at the anthology book signing after meeting at the awards ceremony the previous night. I told her the story of my childhood dream, and of how much the shuttle program had inspired me. Speaking with her, I again felt that feeling from the dream, like a hug, and I carried that feeling with me for many days. A week later, I received an email from June, enquiring if I would like to illustrate her ‘Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Silver Linings’ book cover. I was thrilled, though just a little nervous at being given such an important honor. Of course I said yes.
I am so very grateful to have the opportunity to give back in a way that will see future dreamers, young and old, continue to look out into the sky and wonder: are we alone? what else is out there? who are we in the vast, limitless expanse of the universe? who are we really? I know one thing is certain: somehow, we are loved beyond our comprehension.
I offer a heartfelt appreciation for all those men and women who believe in the impossible and reach forward, those that help us to stand up and take notice of the miracles at hand. They dedicate their lives to inspire and teach us, every day, by their acts of courage, strength and care. Thank you for your unwavering passion and devotion. You serve not only us, but the greater love that holds us all.
Seth J. Rowanwood
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