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Old 07-20-2009, 01:43 PM   #1
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Default Explaining the moon shots to SWMBO

I am 51, but SWMBO is only 37. She is reading about all the hoopla surrounding the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's setting foot on the moon and can't figure out what all the fuss is about. Now Walter Cronkite has died and she is wondering why everyone is all upset about that.

Did things change that much in just a few short years? I am not doing very well at explaining to her just how big the NASA missions during the 60's were. Today not very many people even pay attention to the space shuttle missions unless a disaster happens, but back in those days the eyes of the whole world (including mine) were on everything NASA (and the Soviet space agency) did.

I remember like it was yesterday sitting on the living room floor in front of our 19" b & w television. I would spend hour after hour staring at the image of those Mercury/Atlas rockets sitting on the pad at Cape Canaveral, while NASA worked through one seemingly endless delay after another. All the while I would have Walter Cronkite's reassuring voice providing all the latest updates.

Usually, but not always, the countdowns would resume at last and the liftoff would occur. It never seemed like anything would go right with the Mercury's.

When the Gemini program started I was older and in school, so it seemed like many of the launches were during the day time when I could no longer watch. But I would look forward all day to the CBS evening news where they would replay the launches. If a mission happened during summer vacation, I would stayed glued to the set watching space walks and rendevous's and dockings with Thor/Agenas.

After watching the struggles of the Mercury and Gemini missions, the Apollo missions that followed the tragic Apollo 1 were simply amazing. NASA had really gotten their sh*t together by then, and it was breathtaking all the amazing things they could do by then.

I remember sitting in a Holiday Inn with my family on the night of July 20, 1969 (we were, believe it or not, on the way to Florida that summer, where as part of our family vacation were were going to take a tour of the Kennedy Space Center) watching the grainy black and white images of Neil Armstrong climbing down the ladder and setting foot on the moon.

CBS showed shots from all over the world as people everywhere watched and cheered for the astronauts.

I am surprised that a few short years could make so much difference that my wife has such a hard time relating to how huge that was. No one had to explain anything to her when Michael Jackson died.

NASA is working on a new program to get us back to the moon now, but I wonder how many people are even aware of it? If you had told me back in 1969 that 40 years later we had not even tried to go to Mars, I would have thought you were crazy.

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Old 07-20-2009, 02:36 PM   #2
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My wife loves that stuff. I picked up a 4 disc Blueray set that has the NASA stuff in it. Quality time together.

Most people don't realize that the technology had been in development since turn of the century, and it wasn't until the 60's that they could actually try many of the theories. They used a ballistic trajectory, but there were others that were thought of decades before, like skip trajectory. Way back before they had any way to test this stuff. They were really practically trying new and dangerous things back then. Now that it's been done, it seems mundane.

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Old 07-20-2009, 02:41 PM   #3
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Steal her GPS, cell phone and disconnect the cable tv for a full day. That ought to help her appreciate what the space program means.
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:48 PM   #4
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Turn the color level to zero on your smallest tube TV (if available), and (using a converter box ) have her enjoy the maybe three channels that are broadcast through the air.
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:20 PM   #5
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Something is a miss there. I am 38 the Mrs. is 37 and we both remember having 3 channels and Atari games. True I don't remember the Moon landing but realize it was a big deal.
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:22 PM   #6
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definatley a big deal concidering my $2 calculator has more computing power than the apolo lander had.
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:24 PM   #7
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I've been watching the history channel all morning. Space exploration has always been fascinating to me. I wish it was still as big of a deal as it was 40 years ago. Spaceflight is still a dream I hope to fulfill someday. (my 3rd grade teacher said I could)
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:25 PM   #8
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Show her a shiny red handbag. During the three days she spends staring at in awe, watch the moon landing and enjoy.
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:33 PM   #9
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I wasn't even a though in my parent's heads when these events were big, but even I realize the significance. I was also sad at the passing of Walter Cronkite, the term "anchor" was first used to describe him. He reported on some very big events, including the JFK assassination.
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Old 07-20-2009, 04:37 PM   #10
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Yeah, I am watching something on discovery about the moon shoot now. It was a little before my time, but living on the space coast I was exposed to it and the history.
But things have definitely changed. They played the news break where Cronkite announced the training fire. There was a level of emotion that you don't see any more. His voice ever so slightly breaking, showing restrained grief and genuine compassion. Current news casters have to use restraint to hide their inner elation for breaking 'the big story'. Makes me sick to watch these people pretend to care in times of tragedy and then return to all smiles in an instant to talk about a water skiing squirrel .

NASA has done wonderful things. I read an interesting tidbit, not sure how accurate but, it stated that the space programs (ours and Russia's) had accelerated technology by at least 20 years. Just think, Al Gore would be inventing the internet now...

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