Space Shuttle missions began in 1981, a year after Rhode Island’s own Sherwood “Woody” Spring was selected as an astronaut. Spring, raised in Eden Park in Cranston and Harmony village, graduated from Ponaganset High School in 1963. He attended the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1967 before he served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a pilot.
Colonel Spring was selected as an astronaut in May 1980, and served on a number of Space Shuttle missions, including mission specialist on STS-61B which flew November 26 through December 3, 1985. During that mission, he was responsible for launching three communications satellites and performed two extra-vehicular activities (EVAs). By the end of this mission career, he had logged 165 hours in space.
In 1986, the RIHS was excited to add Spring’s launch/entry coveralls, jacket, and gloves to the Museum Collection, documenting Rhode Island’s own astronaut.
For those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 70s, the space program holds a special mystery and appeal. A few years ago, I stood in my back yard and watched the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery pass overhead for the last time. I read about the 50th Anniversary of Friendship 7 in the New York Times, and I thought about Woody Spring, Rhode Island astronaut, and all of the people who made the various NASA programs a success.
It’s such a Rhode Island story, how we’re all connected, and here’s this blue jacket that links our state to an important part of recent history … and even, in a way, to the moon, sun, and stars. You could say it’s universal!
– Kirsten Hammerstrom, former Director of Collections
The RIHS mission is to Remember, Interpret, Honor, and Share stories like this one, along with archiving and maintaining a collection of more than 25,000 objects and counting. Help us soar by donating to our Annual Fund today!