David M. Shribman | Notre Dame Magazine Autumn 2013
On the day in 1961 when Alan B. Shepard Jr. became the first American to travel into space, a 12-year-old middle school student from Pittsburgh used an earphone to listen on his new transistor radio to the countdown for Freedom 7. The study hall monitor caught him and dispatched him to detention.
Jay Apt later became an astronaut, eventually flying four missions on the space shuttle. He was one of tens of thousands of young people whose dreams took off with Shepard (and later with Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom and John H. Glenn Jr.), one of millions of Americans whose hearts were fired with passion by the lure of the heavens and with the goal, set by President John F. Kennedy, of reaching the moon before the end of the 1960s.