Two people have walked on the edge of space on Sunday — a man from the Bronx and his daughter. Alan Shepard’s daughter, Alison Shepard-Edwards, posted a video of the occasion on her Instagram page, in which she is seen accompanying her father to the edge of space before she gets into an uncomfortable conversation with her stepfather. The launch, which was from Cape Canaveral, Florida, was orchestrated by extreme sports champion Ariel Waterman, according to the official NASA.
Don’t worry, you don’t see Alison Shepard-Edwards or “Squirrel 2-er,” her celebrity personality-soulmate, during the ride. Instead, you see Alan Shepard and the Orbiter who participated in the famed Gemini space program in 1966 and 1967 — the first American man to walk in space. Shepard and his astronaut roommate Edgar Mitchell spent five days in orbit. Nichols had imagined taking the Gemini 9 capsule with him to Space, but soon enough realized it was too small and that his mother, who was visiting on behalf of NASA, urged him to take the Orbiter instead. Since the Gemini program ended, no American has been up in space with a capsule.
The mission carried scientific payloads about climate change, as well as educational materials for astronauts. The payload, titled, “Mapping the Global Land Surface from the Moon to the Earth,” was developed with NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey and NGA.
In 1966, Shepard was selected as the 14th man to fly into space and made two space walks while traveling through space. He achieved the first American moonwalk on April 12, 1969. The U.S.’s second moonwalk, led by Neil Armstrong, followed in July of the same year. It was this historic second lunar landing that not only marked the beginning of American space exploration, but the first time humans took Earth satellites into orbit.
Her father left NASA in 1971, and was cast into the near-mythical role of Space Ranger, a role he revealed he sought to avoid. In 1972, Shepard-Edwards collaborated with media figure Brian Williams to develop a graphic novel “The Legend of Space Ranger.” This did not help her to break out of her dad’s shadow, a role she describes as “killing my creative juices” when she wanted to realize her own dreams. However, at the age of 45, she sought to spread a message about the power of people being creative, whether they were in art, science or public speaking.
Alison Shepard-Edwards holds the STEM record for the world’s youngest known scientist with 34 published scientific papers. She’s fascinated by studying disasters around the world to shed light on them and their causes. “They don’t happen because they don’t exist; they happen because we don’t recognize them,” she said in an interview in 2017 with her at 39 the astrophysicist, John Lawson, quoting Einstein, a man who often shared his opinions and ideas with Alison. He also told her, “Every story is a potential novel.” That was a life lesson she had not learned until recently.
Today, Allison Shepard-Edwards opened up about her new passion — science. “Science is the quest for truth,” she said in an interview with Slate earlier this year. “It’s about approaching, figuring out, considering, and exploring.”
Read the full story at Slate.
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