Tuesday, August 2, 2011
When I was a kid, I would lay back in the cool summer grass and look at the nighttime sky. I would see airplanes, satellites, and various other refinements make their way across the big black spotted dome above me. It's one of my fondest memories.
I grew up in the Shuttle Age of space flight, long after the pioneers & rogue volunteers had launched their way into history, strapped atop nothing more than a damn missile. Now that's not to take away from those who ferried their way into the great beyond aboard the Shuttles.
I do recall what happened to the Challenger. 6th grade. Mrs. Wade turned the TV off when the booster rockets ran away to find their own piece of blue.
I wept openly and without pride, doing so amongst my peers. As did my peers do so around me.
I did so once again when I staggered, bleary eyed one Saturday morning, into the living room to see the slowest shooting stars I'd ever seen at daybreak, quietly make their way across a Texas sky.
Still... my enamor and reserve were always kept solemn and stoic for the Apollo Boys.
I so wish I could have experienced those days. The days in which we, as a country, Did because we Could. Because we Wanted To. They were latter day Outlaws to the heavens.
The Mercury & Gemini Programs had come before, assuring the financiers that we wouldn't (probably) kill ourselves, and thus we banded the few together and pushed them into the sky. Those rockets should have had balls hanging off their asses.
Everyone has heard about Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, but I want to tell you about another Apollo.
Your Father's favorite of all.
They were the first triple threat that went up. Not long after the fire. 10 days in orbit, making sure the orbiter didn't have too many flaws, hoping to God the engineers had it all figured out.
Schirra, Eisele & Cunningham.
They were a pain in the ass to CAPCOM. They bitched about everything. In truth, that was their job. They were test driving a vehicle that couldn't be driven back to the shop if the A/C stopped working.
They railed on the food, the ride, and the fact that Schirra got a cold.
But... because of them... future Astronauts had helmet visors, better meals & the undivided attention of Houston.
Sadly, they were blackballed from future flights. I always found that shameful on the part of our Government. Well, one of many things.
Last July I got to see the Apollo 7 reentry module. I got to touch it's crippled & sculpted heat shield. I got to hold the heavy metal in my hand.
It was a good day.
It reminded me that where we think we can go is no where near where we might end up if we try to go Somewhere.
The Universe if FULL of Life. So are You.
Don't ever let anyone tell you the sky is the limit.
Not as long as there are boot prints on the Moon.