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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
Teams 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.
Michaelsons 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 Lindberghs historic flight across the Atlantic,
through the 1950s imagination for space travel to the first NASA
space walk. Photographs, advertising, childrens illustrations
and personal anecdotes about air and space travel surround the
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 Societys
calendar of events is posted on the Internet at www.mnhs.org.
The web site also has information about all of the Societys
programs and historic sites.