Awards & Grants

Defying Gravity: The Origins of American Space Tourism

By Emily A. Margolis

On the morning of February 20, 1962, Mrs. Curtis Hamilton served her family a “good, hot breakfast,” just as she did every day. But on this day her family dined al fresco, sipping coffee from thermoses on the dunes of Cocoa Beach, Florida, as they awaited the start of America’s first crewed orbital spaceflight. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Hicks, drove in with their granddaughter Debra from Waco, Texas, to join the catered launch party. Meanwhile many more onlookers gazed skyward from the Beach Causeway, which now resembled a parking lot rather than a roadway.