This is one of the more interesting Christmas cards I’ve found in the archives– Seasons Greetings From the Lockheed Missiles Division! As far as I know the only Rice tie is that I came across it in the files of Alex Dessler, the founding chairman of the Space Science Department:
Bonus: Kraft Hall.
Dr. Dessler was a Senior Scientist at Lockheed Missiles & Space Company (Palo Alto, Calif.) from 1956-1962.
The artist who created the mural shown on that Christmas card — Ben Mayer (1925-1999) — had an interesting career.
His financial success as an commercial artist and designer in Los Angeles allowed him to pursue his true passion: astronomy! He shot some historic photos of a supernova just as its evidence was reaching the earth, invented useful devices for amateur astronomers and wrote several well-received books on the subject.
Yes, Dr. Dessler got his start in space sciences at Lockheed. I once asked him how he got from low temperature physics (his PhD work) into space sciences. He said he started work at Lockheed before Sputnik was launched. Soon after the launch, Dr Francis “Frank” Johnson came around to the scientists and said, “We’re starting a space science group. Are you interested in joining?” Dessler said yes along with Dr. William “Bill” Hanson. Until 1962 they did some of the early work in the young field there at Lockheed, then the three of them moved to the Southwest Center for Advances Studies in Richardson, Texas, a non-for-profit research center founded and funded by Texas Instruments. A year later Dessler left to found the Space Sciences Department at Rice. In 1969 the SCAS became the University of Texas at Dallas with Dr. Johnson as the first President and Dr. Hanson as the founder and head of the Center for Space Sciences at UT Dallas.