Perhaps it’s a coincidence that the maiden flight of the second space shuttle Challenger took place in April 1983. But in the context of the two couples rendered in this artwork bidding farewell to a tiny couple in the cockpit (punning on the phallic shape of the shuttle), the fiery launch is highly suggestive of a sexual encounter. In addition to the theatricality typical of Brown’s work, the composition appropriates pictorial structures from Renaissance painting, such as a dominant central figure and bilateral symmetry from paintings of the Crucifixion and Virgin Mary, and the donor portrait in Renaissance altarpieces, to lend an air of the sacred to his work. The in-your-face quality of this large image, produced in a large edition, is characteristic of his confrontational style (see Smart Museum 2001.180), which is often politically inflected: the dark silhouettes and the infernal threat to nature compete with the celebratory mood. (See 1997.70.) It is equally ambitious in terms of technique. Using silkscreen and lithography he sets up a strong contrastive relationship between hard edges and soft textures (which also conveys the sexual innuendo), while using ten colors poses a challenge to ensure that the colored ink layers line up during the sequential printing of each hue.