I grew up during the Space Race. By birth date, I only missed experiencing the first US orbital launch by a few months.
Like many kids of that era, I was going to be an astronaut. I was steeped in both the real space program and the fictional one via science fiction.
And I distinctly remember feeling that the two worked hand-in-hand: Science Fiction was showing us where we’d go and what we’d do, and NASA was just really busy playing catch – up. There was a real sense of fiction becoming fact (rapidly) within my lifetime. It was entirely possible for me to believe I’d finish school and then go to work on an an orbiting habitat, a base on the Moon, Mars, or maybe even get to join one of the expeditions to a new planet, sailing to Jupiter and beyond.
Or so I thought. (As did many others).
Apollo 11 PROVED that this was what was going to happen.
Apollo 13 firmly cemented that belief; not only could we get to the Moon (and beyond), but we could handle emergencies. Space was dangerous, but humans were its match.
Then of course political reality set in. The whole thing had been nothing but an expensive case of countries comparing their rockets to see whose was bigger.
Oh sure. Voyager was exciting, Viking was exciting, Sojourner and Curiosity…great to see even more countries developing launch capability and filling in the gaps, but the dream of personally going to space was dead.
Now, 60 years and a handful of months since humans sent the first object into space, I have reason to have hope once again. Not necessarily for myself, (unless they start offering D.D. Harriman funeral packages) but for everyone.
Following the (mostly) successful SpaceX Heavy Falcon test launch, I’ve been reading about how excited the kids are. How engaged with space (and the STEM disciplines) they’ve become.
And I’m jealous because man, I have got to tell you, the launch of the Heavy, and particularly the synchronized landing of the boosters back at Kennedy, just plain beats the socks off of a Saturn 5 launch. Maybe not a Moon landing or a space rescue, but awfully effin close!
No cliche, when I saw that landing I just stared at the screen with mouth and eyes wide open for a full five minutes of awestruck paralysis. The spaceport of my dreams was a reality. Tom Corbett, step aside.
I captured some screen shots while watching. Of course the entire video is available, but these were grabbed at what I thought were inspiring moments, live.
The only thing I’m really disappointed by is the fact that its taking an era of oligarchs to make this happen. But then again, that was Science Fiction too.