Chicago family over the moon rocket launch delayed until late son’s birthday


CHICAGO — Maybe it was written in the stars after all for one Chicago family.

NASA called off its Artemis-1 rocket launch on Monday following engine trouble.

“This is a brand new rocket. It’s not going to fly until it’s ready,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. “There are millions of components of this rocket and its systems. Needless to say, the complexity is daunting when you bring it all into the focus of a countdown.”

The project is a quest to put astronauts back on the moon for the first time since the Apollo program ended 50 years ago. For spectators who gathered at Space View Park in Titusville across from the launch pad, the scrubbed launch was a bit of a bummer. Katie Gaskin was ready to watch the rocket soar, with her late son Anthony’s name on board.

“Not many can say, ‘hey, my name’s on that rocket ship going to space,’” Gaskin told WGN News on Aug. 23.

Anthony, a space enthusiast who dreamed of one day becoming an astronomer for NASA, passed away from a rare pediatric brain cancer in 2017 at 7 years old. One year earlier, during a VIP tour at NASA’s site in Alabama, Anthony and his brothers signed their names to the Artemis-1.

Young space lover Anthony died of a rare brain cancer in 2017. (Photo/Submitted)

Now, it looks like the debut launch could take place on Friday.

“Well, NASA seems somewhat optimistic that they can address the issue and try for that launch attempt on Friday,” said Michelle Nichols, director of Public Observing at the Adler Planetarium.

But Friday, Sept. 2, was the day Anthony’s family had been shooting for all along.

“That is because Sept. 2 will be Anthony’s 13th birthday,” Gaskin said last Tuesday.

On that day, Anthony’s family hopes his name soars past the stars and land on the moon.

“The smile that was on his face while he was doing it and afterward, it’s a memory that I’ll never, ever forget,” Gaskin said. “It will never fade from my mind just because of that smile that he had in doing that, just knowing his dreams were coming true.”

Loved ones created the Anthony’s Avengers Foundation to raise awareness and help find a cure for DIPG. Gaskin and company say they will be watching on Friday and hope for a successful launch.

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