“Even before Apollo 11 — the first lunar landing in July 1969 — the government had already axed the program’s loftier ambitions. Planners had envisioned Apollo leading to a lunar base, for instance, and a manned mission to Mars was entering the conversation.”
~ Adam Hadhazy, SPACE.com ~
I grew up watching NASA’s race to put men on the moon. That goal was first achieved in July of 1969.
Now we’re finally on our way to Mars! . . It’s about time!
When I was a kid we had a small room/storage space under the stairs of our home with the entrance from outside. This was one of my play areas. The original Star Trek series with Captain Kirk and the Star Ship Enterprise was a favorite. In this storage room I made my own little spaceship control panel with flashing lights using peg board and a string of blinking Christmas lights poking through from the back.
For the boys in my neighborhood, instead of video games, there was something with far more of a WOW factor. And that was model kits, of almost everything you can imagine – jet planes, cars of every shape and style, monster dioramas . . . and then there were Rocket Ships! We could actually build scale models of the Apollo Saturn V Rocket with the Lunar Module for landing on the Moon’s surface.
To build this model would make a kid feel like he was connected to the space program, even experiencing a part of history. The Apollo rocket model I built was produced by Revell, I think. When completed it stood over three fee tall.
I never really thought I would be an astronaut, but I was sure it would not be long following those first landings on the moon, that we would be building a lunar base, and then it would be on to Mars.
But, that was not to be. At least, not for a long while.
Fast forward 40 years.
Over the last few months I’ve read a couple of books with Mars as the subject. First, H.G. Wells classic War of the Worlds – I was only vaguely aware of the plot. I enjoyed the story as it moved here and there, in directions I hadn’t expected.
Still, the book that really caught my interest was The Martian by Andy Weir. This near future, almost “Historical Fiction” made the idea that we would soon have manned flights to Mars seem to be a given. The ‘title’ character, astronaut Mark Watney is a very resourceful guy with a somewhat wacky sense of humor.
We humans really can accomplish amazing things. It was incredible that we walked on the moon almost 50 years ago. And now, with Elon Musk and SpaceX taking the lead, we may have folks heading to Mars in the next decade. NASA has its plans to send astronauts to Mars, but at the moment, Musk seems to be the one to place your bet on getting there first. There’s also Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) and Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, and others setting their sites on space flight.
Not many years ago I think maybe I just gave up on seeing mankind make a bold move towards space. I was encouraged by those 1970’s and 1980’s Star Trek and Star Wars sci-fi movies. But they were just science fiction, right? Well, childhood dreams, those things that inspired us as kids – they sometimes do come true.
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“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”
“Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.”
~ Andy Weir, The Martian