Mercury-Redstone 3 (2016) 7'

For orchestra. 2+picc, 2+Ehn, 2+Bcl, 2+Cbn - 4, 3, 2+bass, 1 - timp, 3 perc, hp, cel=pf, str

Performed 6/23/17 by the American Composers' Orchestra. Self-published (Morningside Press, ASCAP).

Mercury-Redstone 3 is the name of the NASA mission that first sent an American astronaut, Alan Shepard, into space. I find it interesting that this tremendous accomplishment has been overshadowed by two other, more celebrated historical events. Just three weeks before Shepard’s suborbital flight, the Soviet Union launched the first person ever into space, beating the States to the punch. Then, eight months after the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission, NASA launched John Glenn all the way into orbit aboard Mercury-Atlas 6. These feats by Glenn and the USSR are more readily remembered than Shepard's, but for me, the somewhat unheralded nature of the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission imbues it with a special quality. To imagine that first U.S. spaceflight is to think of the unadulterated thrill of exploration and an unfathomable exhilaration. What must it have felt like to be among the first to touch the sky? I hope in this piece to capture some of the sense of wonder and excitement that NASA, and the sheer audacity of human spaceflight, have brought me since I was young. 

 

Listen:

The first American view of Earth from space, taken aboard the Freedom 7 capsule

The first American view of Earth from space, taken aboard the Freedom 7 capsule

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