Friday, November 2, 2012

Snoopy, NASA and Colorado Springs

Posted By on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 at 5:21 PM

What do these three things have in common?

Visit the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum starting Nov. 17, and you'll find that NASA, in the heady days of the space race, approached cartoonist Charles M. Schultz Schulz, asking if it could use Snoopy as its safety mascot. Schultz Schulz obliged, and so began a partnership that eventually led to the crew of Apollo 10 (who did the dry run before the Apollo 11 moon landing) nicknaming their command and lunar modules Charlie Brown and Snoopy, respectively. The characters' names were also used on subsequent missions. As far as Snoopy and the safety program, NASA implemented the Silver Snoopy Award program to improve safety records for NASA employees and contractors. It's still in effect today, and the Silver Snoopy pin, according to CSMP, is still a "coveted award."

The beagle has landed.

So where does the Springs come in? Well we all know the Space Foundation is headquartered here, and that the space industry is one of the area's top employers, but in addition to that, Schultz Schulz was once a resident here, living on El Paso Street in 1951. Schultz Schulz based some of his characters on neighbor children, and painted a mural in his daughter's bedroom featuring some of the first Peanuts characters.

(There's a great Side Streets column in the Gazette from 2009 about it.)

That mural now resides at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in California, but back at the CSPM, you'll find literature about the Peanuts-NASA partnership, a comic strip of Snoopy's own moon trip, a Silver Snoopy pin that traveled there, and a kid's area where they can dress up like an astronaut.

The exhibit officially opens later this month, but if you RSVP by Nov. 9, you can see it a day early for the opening reception on Fri., Nov. 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

And for more information on the exhibit, read the press release after the jump.

(Colorado Springs, CO) — Just before the first man landed on the moon, Charlie Brown and Snoopy soared through space with NASA’s Apollo 10 mission in May 1969. The exhibition To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA examines the history of Apollo 10 and the Peanuts characters’ role in that flight and in the NASA Manned Flight Awareness safety program.

It is difficult to imagine — although some remember it well — the excitement that the race for the moon invoked forty years ago. As the decade of the 1960s was coming to a close, America and the rest of the world waited with great anticipation to see if NASA could achieve President John F. Kennedy’s challenge, put forth in May 1961, of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Consequently, it was a very great honor, indeed, when the crew of Apollo 10 chose to nickname their command and lunar modules Charlie Brown and Snoopy, respectively. The flight of Apollo 10 in May 1969 was the “dress rehearsal” for the lunar landing that was scheduled for July 1969. Astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan piloted “Snoopy” within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface as they scouted the landing area for Apollo 11 while John Young orbited the moon in the command module “Charlie Brown.”

Charles Schulz’s involvement with NASA actually started a year earlier than the 1969 flight of Apollo 10 when he was approached by NASA with a request to use Snoopy as their safety mascot. The Silver Snoopy Award program was instituted to improve the safety record of NASA employees and contractors. It proved to be a huge success with the astronauts and the employees. The Silver Snoopy pin is a much coveted award. Snoopy has been on the job for 40 plus years and continues to this day in his role as NASA’s safety mascot.

In To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA, visitors will see Snoopy’s trip to the moon in the March 1969 Peanuts strip series (besting NASA’s record by a few months!), learn about the NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award program, and view a Silver Snoopy pin that was flown to the moon. The exhibit also contains a children’s creative play space where children can dress up like an astronaut and have their photograph taken in a life-size Apollo 10 astronaut suit standee.

“Many Colorado Springs residents probably don’t realize that Charles M. Schulz lived here briefly in the early 1950’s,” said Matt Mayberry, director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. “He worked on his characters and comic strips here in the Springs and a portion of the home he lived in on El Paso Street was moved to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Sonoma County in Northern California.” The nursery room wall mentioned by Mayberry features a colorful mural painted by Schulz and includes early renditions of his now-famous characters Snoopy, Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown.

Colorado Springs is a National Space Symposium site and serves as the headquarters to the Space Foundation. The space industry is one of the top employers in Colorado Springs, employing more than 250,000 people and contributing approximately $325 billion to the local economy. “Not only does this exhibit give us the opportunity to pay homage to Charles M. Schulz and the time he spent in Colorado Springs, but it gives us a chance to honor the space industry, which is so important to our city.”

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is proud to host the To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA exhibit November 17, 2012 — April 20, 2013. The Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. and admission is free. For more information, please call 719-385-5990 or visit www.cspm.org.

To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA is organized and toured by the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, Santa Rosa, California.

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