Three, two, one ... blast off!
That sound figures to be music to the ears of Kris Schaible, and for good reason.
After all, a handcrafted glass bead the Palmerton artist created was selected by Beads of Courage to go to space and back on NASA's STS-132 Space Shuttle Mission.
The artwork is part of Beads of Courage and NASA's Beads in Space project. The STS-132 mission is scheduled to launch Friday.
Schaible said Beads of Courage hosted a contest for glass bead makers around the world to enter their artwork for consideration in the Beads in Space project.
Out of 54 beads entered, 17 were selected from nine different artists. The 17 beads weigh precisely eight ounces, the maximum allowed by NASA for the flight. Upon their return, the winning beads will be returned to Beads of Courage.
That hers was one of the select few chosen for the Mission was quite the surprise, said Schaible.
"I am so honored to have been chosen," Schaible said. "We love the space program, and my husband and I enjoy teaching our three children about space and the space program."
Schaible said she and her family are in eager anticipation.
"I think it is really amazing, almost unbelievable, that something I created will be traveling into space," she said. "I am excited, and hope that we will be able to see the shuttle pass over head one night."
Schaible said the distinction is one she'll always remember.
"I feel so honored to be selected; to have a vision of a bead that I think represents what a child may think of space and of the NASA mission, and to be able to create that bead and then have it juried by others and chosen," she said. "It is awesome that this project is getting so much attention; I think that is almost as exciting to me as being selected. After all, I am going to be one of nine artists from around the world that will be able to say we had beads in space."
Schaible lauded the Beads of Courage program.
"Beads of Courage is such a wonderful program, and having one of my beads associated with that program really helps me to feel like I am doing something to bring attention to their goals and to the program itself," she said. "So, perhaps when someone looks at my bead, or my web site that was unaware of the program, I can help to spread their mission and awareness."
A wife and mother of three, Schaible grew up in York, Lancaster County, where she gained her passion for art at an early age. Glass bead making became her main artistic focus many years ago after she witnessed a lampworking artist at a local festival.
A full-time glass and jewelry artist, Schaible and her husband, John, have opened six torch studios for lampworking classes.
Beads of Courage is a nonprofit organization, based in Tucson, Ariz., focused on arts-in-medicine programs geared toward helping children cope with serious illnesses.
Patients are given beads to represent significant treatment milestones during their journey. Beads of Courage programs have helped thousands of children and their families at over 60 hospitals.
"We are very grateful for the dedication and enthusiasm of our artists, not just in this special programs but every day of the year. Without their help Beads of Courage just wouldn't exist," said Jean Baruch, director of Beads of Courage. "We are very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with NASA to send such fine artwork into space. This mission will bring inspiration to the many children and their families battling serious illnesses."
The Beads in Space project is the brainchild of Jamie Newton, an employee at the Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Newton's daughter has been battling cancer and is a participant in the Beads of Courage program. He pursued the idea in hopes to raise awareness about Beads of Courage and the work the organization does helping children undergoing medical treatment.
More information is available at www.beadsofcourage.org.