Jay at Cape Canaveral
In 2008, NASA commissioned storyteller Jay O’Callahan to write a story to celebrate the national space agency’s 50th anniversary. It was a particularly fitting modality, as NASA scientists use storytelling to share the results of their research and projects with their colleagues.
O’Callahan’s resulting work, entitled Forged in the Stars, features the stories of three prominent NASA personalities: J.C. High Eagle, a NASA engineer of Cherokee Indian heritage whose childhood dream was to help men land on the moon; astronaut Neil Armstrong in the 1969 Apollo moon landing; and the poignant story of New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe, who died in the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Further, the story explores the wondrous journey of the twin Voyager spacecraft, launched in 1977 with the goal of exploring Jupiter and Saturn, and continuing on to this day to places no other spacecraft has ever explored.
O’Callahan’s work is the result of almost two years of research, including interviews with astronauts, engineers and many other NASA employees. He has performed Forged in the Stars at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, Ames Research Center, MIT, Harvard University, ScienceTeller Conference, New Zealand,the International Astronomical Congress, Cape Town, South Africa as well as on National Public Radio’s Living on Earth.
NASA JPL scientist Michael Eastwood said of the story, "Jay's story about NASA was enthralling. I was moved and inspired by the way Jay put the truth of what we do on vibrant display through his eloquent imagery. Our space exploration challenges, passions, shortcomings, and triumphs were woven through Jay's story, and he captured the soaring human spirit of our endeavors beautifully."