At some point in the early- to mid-1980s, probably in 1983 or 1984 when he was about ten or eleven years old, my younger brother, Raymond, wrote a letter to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), volunteering to be the first child in space. He wanted to fly as a passenger on NASA's Space Transportation System, a vehicle known better as the Space Shuttle. In response, he received a large envelope from NASA stuffed with fact sheets and brochures as well as posters and stickers that soon decorated his bedroom and filled a scrapbook. Although Ray's desire to volunteer may have been partially inspired by a family visit to the Kennedy Space Center in 1983, many other children followed the same impulse in the mid-1980s. The NASA historical reference collection contains numerous examples of letters received by the agency and the White House especially in the weeks and months after the announcement of the Teacher in Space Program on August 27, 1984. The connection seemed obvious: a teacher would need a student. More so, the rhetoric about the Shuttle program in the early 1980s suggested that ordinary people might soon participate in spaceflights. Even children made the connection. As 12-year-old Karen Rall of Kent, Washington reasoned in a letter to President Ronald Reagan, "We have sent Senators, scientists, foreigners and soon a teacher into space; why not send a kid?"1
Weitekamp, Margaret A.
"Selling Education in the Shape of a Shuttle,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 87:
2, Article 7.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol87/iss2/7