A group portrait of NASA’s Apollo 11 astronauts posing with their families around a model of the moon in March 1969. Pictured are: (at top, from left) the astronaut Michael Collins; his children, Mike, Kate, and Ann; and his wife, Pat; (at left) the astronaut Buzz Aldrin; his wife, Joan; and his...
Fifty years after Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the Moon, this is the story of the sequence of events which led them there. Every one of the following 50 factors could have prevented one of mankind's greatest achievements.
Born in 1955, I ate, breathed, slept and dreamt about NASA (and the balloon gondola projects before all that) for as long as I can recall.
I could name all of the Mercury astronauts. And Gemini. And Apollo - before, during and after all the missions. And Yuri Gagarin of course. While I don't have a PhD in Astrophysics (like Brian May), this fascination naturally led me to learn about the basics of gravity, G-forces, tides, air pressure, oxygen, friction, vacuum, SCUBA, deep sea diving, altitude, temperature, distance, thrust, weight, radios, flight, navigation, radar, satellites, flotation, space junk, supersonic flight, speed of light, distance to the moon/sun, radiation, helicopters, Da Vinci and photography. Not to mention politics, race, education, budgets, media, celebrity, assassinations, hope, pride, patriotism, risk and reward.
So, did following the US and Russian space programs make me a super genius as a kid? Hell no! That comes from chasing road runners.
But did the space race and moon landings happen at the right time in my young life to intrigue me endlessly, and inspire learning and an understanding of things that were just not happening in a SW Portland grade school? Probably. Totally saturated after school with boxing, baseball, paper routes, bicycles, mini bikes, electric guitar, juvenile delinquency, BB guns and teenage breasts, I went straight home every Tuesday to see what Life magazine and others had to serve up. And there was Nat Geo whenever it came out, TV news, the papers, books, and anything else I could get my hands on.
Net effect? This probably all conspired to help me in the military, college and professional life after that for the simple ability to read, comprehend and construct a semi-coherent sentence. Conversely, I know a balanced young lady with a Masters Degree and a career she likes. Knowing that she went to Neil Armstrong Middle School, I asked her two weeks ago if she knew who he was. Not a f_ing clue.
I guess if it's not new and exciting, right now, it's passé. And, sadly, I honestly can't tell you if the US has anyone in space right now. Kind of a giant leap in itself, I suppose.