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Kansas Cosmosphere Gallery


Sign to the left of the stained glass window. It reads

This memorial stained glass window, Ad Astra per Aspera, became a labor of love and inspiration for all involved in the project. Every detail of the 8' x 11' window was designed, perfected, created, and assembled by a team of talented artists from Kansas.

After the tragic accident of the Space Shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center approached Randall Rayer, owner of Rayer's Bearden Stained Glass, Wichita, about creating a powerful and lasting memorial to the crew of Columbia, as well as the fallen astronauts from Apollo 1 and Challenger. Randall, and his wife Pamela, recognized the importance of such a memorial and committed to donating the work of art to the museum.

Working in collaboration with a team from the Cosmosphere, the conceptual design was developed with every detail discussed and symbolism explored in an effort to convey the wonder of spaceflight and the spirit of exploration.

Physical reminders of each of the memorialized missions were included in the window. From Pad 34, where the crew of Apollo 1 was lost in a fire, a section of electrical equipment was placed within the glass. From earlier flights of Challenger and Columbia, thermal tiles removed from the underside of the Space Shuttles were also embedded in the artwork. Crew names, mission patches, and symbols of spaceflight tragedies and triumphs all found their way into the final concept. Then the hard work began.

Rayer assembled a volunteer team of 19 to bring the design to life. Working during every available free moment, the artists used nearly every technique, type of glass, and visual effect in their desire to make the memorial perfect. All told, the 19 artists devoted nearly three years and over 4,000 hours towards the creation of Ad Astra per Aspera. The finished result became not only a tribute to the fallen astronauts, but to the talented hands that created this work of art.

Ad Astra per Aspera
Dedicated March 1, 2006

Randall Rayer and Pamela Rayer Nancy Fricker David Strouse
J. Douglas Bozeman, Jr. Craig Green Tom and Pam Voth
Beth Palyash Suzy Mattson Caleb Wilson
Pat Adberg Jesse Morgan  
Joe Breazeale Susan Olson Installed by Scott Hoefer
Rose Bunton Mahlon Riell Parks Hoefer's Custom Stained Glass
Maria Ciski Tiffany Rayer  

Time picture taken Tue Jul 29 11:24:10 2008
Location picture taken Across from Cafeteria
Kansas Cosmosphere
Hutchinson, KS
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