Reaching for the Stars

A floating astronaut, with Earth beneath his feet, grasps a point of light

Painting Completed 1997
18 3/4 x 20 inches, Acrylic on Aircraft Plywood

In one sense, this is a painting of a universal astronaut, symbolizing everyone who flew in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz. It also represents those who fly on space shuttles and will fly on a space station and on future missions only dreamed about at this time.

The astronaut is an emissary of us all, soaring away from our planet Earth and traveling as far as it is humanly possible to go with the technology available in our age. Although we haven't yet explored distant stars, we are moving inexorably in that direction. As the centuries unfold, humans will visit all the planets around all the stars that it will be possible to reach at that time, for this desire to explore our limits appears to a unique and magnificent characteristic of human beings.

But, in a broader view, this lone human figure not only symbolizes those of us in the astronaut profession, but all of us who possess a dedicated and adventurous spirit no matter what our interests or age. For we earthlings, we human beings, are the only life form that we know of that can dream, then plan a worked together to achieve that dream. We are extraordinary in the universe in that our only limits are those we place on ourselves.

I painted this astronaut, this "star sailor", to represent the best in each of us, what we can accomplish, who we can be, if we will create the courage and determination to move in the direction of our dreams. It is up to each of us to keep reaching for our own stars and to understand that they are not light years distant but as close as our workplace, our home, and our family.

click for larger version
Click on the image for a larger version.

Mural at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville, Florida.

Ernie Reyes, Chief of the Pre-Flight Operations Branch at the Manned Spacecraft Center during Apollo,
and creator of the cuff checklist drawings that first appeared for Apollo 12,
holds Christian Lotzmann. Photo by Ulli Lotzmann.