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Massive Atlanta art piece depicts trailblazing astronaut

October 11,2021

By Rob DiRienzo, FOX5 Atlanta

Some young aspiring astronauts got an out-of-this-world experience in Downtown Atlanta on Monday. "I want to be somebody who designs the rocket ships," said Ryan Sumner-Lee. The six-year-old met three trailblazing astronauts who are women at the unveiling of a giant "earthwork" honoring astronaut Stephanie Wilson at Woodruff Park. The gigantic portrait of Wilson was constructed out of dirt, grass, and other organic materials. More than a thousand galactic paintings created by Atlanta-area students surrounded the piece.

Civilian astronaut Dr. Sian Proctor just returned to the planet a few weeks ago. On the SpaceX mission Inspiration4, Proctor became the fourth Black woman to go to space and the first to pilot a spacecraft. "When I was some of these young girls' age, I didn’t have a role model," Proctor said. "I didn’t have anybody to say, I can do that, that’s me." Proctor said she’s thrilled to be a role model to the next generation of scientists and engineers who are Black women, like Ryan. "Representation matters and when you get out here and you can inspire the next generation, then you know that you are having an impact," she said. Former NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Susan Kilrain were also on hand. The artwork and ceremony commemorated the International Day of the Girl and World Space Week. "We have this lineage of women before, women now, and girls of the future," Proctor said. Ryan said she learned a valuable lesson from the astronauts she talked to. "They never give up, they keep going."