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Four rockets, including the "Miss Riley" rocket from the movie "October Sky" have "landed" at the Minnesota History Center. The rockets are a new addition to the ongoing exhibit, "Going Places: The Mystique of Mobility," which traces the American passion for movement.

The gantry-enclosed rockets and accompanying stories reflect the success of one Minnesotan to go farther, faster and higher. Former Hollywood stuntman and inventor Ky Michaelson of Bloomington has been working since 1995 to blast an amateur rocket into space, which is officially defined as 62 miles above the earth. His first two attempts in 2000 and 2002 failed, but the third time was the charm. On May 17, 2004, the Go Fast Rocket, built by Michaelson and an all-volunteer collaboration of about 25 teachers, students and rocket scientists called the Civilian Space eXploration Team, soared 77 miles above the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, becoming the first privately funded rocket to reach space.

The rockets on display include the recovered tail of a 17-foot, 500-pound Primera rocket, which was the Civilian Space eXploration Team’s second attempt to send a rocket into space. Also displayed is the "Miss Riley" rocket that was built by Michaelson for "October Sky," a 1999 film based on the high school days of Homer Hickam, who went on to become a NASA engineer. Michaelson has more than 200 movies and TV shows to his credit as a Hollywood stuntman and designer, and has built a fleet of rocket-propelled contraptions that have set land speed records.

Michaelson’s rockets and story join a 1950s-era, 22-foot rocketship, reflecting earlier ambitions for leaving the earth behind with ever-increasing speed. Visitors can immerse themselves in "Reaching for the Stars," a multimedia show inside the silver ship that spans the earliest attempts to fly, including Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight across the Atlantic, through the 1950s imagination for space travel to the first NASA space walk. Photographs, advertising, children’s illustrations and personal anecdotes about air and space travel surround the rockets.

Michaelson will appear at the History Center for a Thanksgiving break program on Nov. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m., where visitors can hear about his inventions and make "Retro Rocket Hats." The Minnesota History Center is located at 345 Kellogg Blvd. W. in St. Paul. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. Auxiliary aids and services are available with advance notice. For more information, call 651-296-6126, 1-800-657-3773 or TTY 651-282-6073. The Society’s calendar of events is posted on the Internet at The web site also has information about all of the Society’s programs and historic sites.

Copyright © 2004 The Rocketman