Friday, July 22, 2011

US in Space; A Personal History

Howdy Folks!

Come along with me on a little nostalgia trip. OK?

This is my childhood.
I well remember the warmth,
the hum,
the orange glow.

These vacuum tubes made our sophisticated technology work:
Radio, Television, even a Computer or two!

There were still plenty of black & white movies, 
and propeller airplanes,
but there was TECHNICOLOR now,
 and Jet Aircraft!

The First Computer in the World!

This is the ENIAC computer right in my hometown,
 at the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia.
(My Mom is a West Philadelphia High School graduate!)
Twenty thousand vacuum tubes. . . CUTTING EDGE!

My Grandparents had a Television like this one.

Do You Recognize This?

 Then you are most
 likely over 50.

The local TV station(s) 

(there was one, maybe 3,
 if you lived in a major
metropolitan area)

did something
 called 'sign off.'

They played the national anthem, 
then broadcast a Test Pattern
(like the one here)

 Or they just turned the station
OFF leaving a hum and static.

 Remember Static?

Some folks called it 'snow.'
 It was relaxing like watching falling snow.

Ours was modern.
I just thought it was TV,
but now they say it was a Golden Age.

We were the Greatest Country in the World!
  Men like my Dad, and my classmates' Dads,
and the milkman 
 and the cop on the beat,
 had Made The World Safe For Democracy.

 The future looked GREAT!

Then some scary things happened:

Laika, Soviet Space Dog

Mutt-nik  &  Sputnik

Then the first human in space,

Yuri Gagarin.

The Communist Soviets Had the High Ground! 


 Telstar 1 
was launched on top of a Thor-Delta rocket
 on July 10, 1962.

 It successfully relayed through space the first television pictures, telephone calls, fax images and provided the first live transatlantic television feed.

I was watching that first  live transatlantic broadcast.


But it wasn't enough.

  So John Glenn was the first American
 to orbit Earth 
 aboard his Mercury Capsule, 
in 1962.

It was VERY special 
having a television wheeled into the classroom.
We all watched at school!

Gosh I remember that shape! 
I had the pencil sharpener!

Those recoveries by aircraft carrier-based helicopters 
out of the sea near our New 50th State,
  were almost as exciting!

Then "we" walked on the moon in 1969!

"For All Humankind"

And in 1981, 
we saw this sight for the first time:

The World Was Amazed
 at the Glide-to-Landing.
The Future Had Arrived!

You could drive your family
 around in your OWN Space Shuttle!

But it was not all good.

Ellison Shoji Onizuka,
Kona, Hawaii
" Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

Ilan Ramon
                                               And danced the skies 
                   on laughter-silvered wings;

Christa McAuliffe

Sunward I've climbed,
 and joined the tumbling mirth

Columbia Crew 2003

" Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Challenger Crew 1986

                       Put out my hand, and touched   
the face of God. "

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

But we and our allies
including the Russians,
and others,
got it done:

International Space Station
"We have slipped the surly bonds of Earth."

The last Shuttle mission has been flown.

It is an empty feeling
befitting a nervous time
of immense change.

I hope we are not done
doing big things

           What do YOU think?  cloudia