CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (KWTX) -- A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched successfully Monday morning, bearing a tribute to Rhett Hering, the 15-year-old son of McGregor, Texas' mayor, whose death in an ATV accident in 2015 sparked the creation of a community-wide service project called the “Rhett Revolution.”
In late July, McGregor Mayor Jimmy Hering, his wife Lorna and their children, Mara and Ryan, were invited to a hangar at SpaceX's rocket research and development facility in McGregor, to place the “Rhett Revolution” sticker on the interior of the rocket's first stage booster, which the company landed successfully after the launch.
Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, says the private space exploration company wanted to honor the McGregor freshman who was class president, quarterback of the freshman football team and well-liked throughout the community.
"Rhett Hering meant a lot to the McGregor community, including many of those who work at the SpaceX rocket development facility, and we wanted to do our part to honor Rhett’s memory and his actions – his small acts of kindness and community service,” Shotwell said.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. It is the first orbital class rocket capable of re-flight.
It’s the company’s 12th flight to the orbiting lab under a contract with NASA for as many as 20 resupply flights.
SpaceX hopes to return the sticker to the family if all goes as planned.
Lorna and Jimmy Hering were at the SpaceX launch Monday at the invitation of SpaceX and both say they're honored by the gesture.
"From a tragedy, it's something really cool," Jimmy said. "It means a lot to us and I hope we can use a moment and an event like this to keep alive Rhett's legacy, which is really about helping and doing good things for people in need and spreading love, kindness, and grace."
Lorna said the launch fell on the 11th year anniversary of Rhett starting kindergarten.