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Time to Remember – Where Were You

July 20, 2008

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America’s manned spaceflight adventure began with the sacrifice of these …

Apollo-1 – January 27, 1967

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Virgil “Gus” Ivan Grissom, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
Edward Higgins White, II, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF
Roger Bruce Chaffee, Lieutenant Commander, USN

I remember those that touched me before they touched the sky ….

sts51l.gif 51-L (25) – January 28,1986

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And most recently … Columbia, February 1, 2003
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180px-fallen_astronaut.jpg Apollo 15 left this on the moon to commemorate FALLEN ASTRONAUTS

Apollo: Expandng Our Knowledge of the Solar System

Fisheye view from the launch tower of the Apollo 11 Saturn V, seconds after first-stage ignition on July 16, 1969. On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of sending astronauts to the moon before the end of the decade. Coming just three weeks after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space, Kennedy’s bold challenge set the nation on a journey unlike any before in human history.

Image left: The massive Saturn V lifts off July 16, 1969, powering Apollo 11 into orbit. Click for high resolution image.

Eight years of hard work by thousands of Americans came to fruition on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module and took “one small step” in the Sea of Tranquility, calling it “a giant leap for mankind.”

Innovation and even improvisation were necessary along the way. In December 1968, rather than letting lunar module delays slow the program, NASA changed plans to keep the momentum going. Apollo 8 would go all the way to the moon and orbit without a lunar module; it was the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.

Six of the missions — Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 — went on to land on the moon, studying soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismic, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields and solar wind. Apollos 7 and 9 tested spacecraft in Earth orbit; Apollo 10 orbited the moon as the dress rehearsal for the first landing. An oxygen tank explosion forced Apollo 13 to scrub its landing, but the “can-do” problem solving of the crew and mission control turned the mission into a “successful failure.”

The program also drew inspiration from Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, who lost their lives in a fire during a launch pad test in 1967.

BossKitty was driving through Los Angeles with family, hollering “please pull over so we can see the moon landing”. No, we had a plan to go over to Catalina Island, before they flew back home.  My compensation was the flight over to the island. I got to sit in the cockpit and operate the controls during the flyover.  That’s because we were the only passengers … everyone else was watching the moon landing. I will never forget that day.  Three missions later I was at what was called the Manned Spaceflight Center and Apollo 14 had just splashed down.  20 years later, NASA changed, because the government politics moved from racing the Russians, replacing it with war funding for Viet Nam.  The Space Race ended, we lost the spirit of adventure and discovery, replaced it with politics of money for war.  BossKitty left NASA.  While working for an NBC affiliate the first Shuttle Mission launched … BossKitty was drawn back in.  Back at NASA when STS-4 landed, BossKitty stayed until 1997.  Contract shenanigans made BossKitty decline the offer to renew the commitment. The Space Program had lost its way, another catastrophe like Challenger would have been too much …

Wow, what a precursor to today’s condition.  Instead of pulling the plug on Space Exploration & Exploitation, today, the health and welfare of the American people are being short changed to fund another war.  If there were no wars, we would have bases on the moon and perhaps Mars by now.  Maybe American people would have better things to worry about than survival in a collapsed economy.

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