Tuesday, July 16, 2019

50 Years Ago This Morning at 9:32 AM

Apollo 11 lifted off from KSC pad 39A.  Lots of people are talking about it.  Zendo Deb at 357 Magnum has a couple of videos of the launch - one of which I'm embedding here.  It's magnificent and despite having seen it happen, hard to remember that America. 

50 years ago, I was 15 - it was the summer of my 9th grade year; the summer after leaving junior high and before starting high school (in those days).  I was on what would be the last vacation I ever took with my parents, to the city of their birth and youth, New York City.  They had moved to Miami when I was three.  On this morning we had spent the night in a motel somewhere in Virginia (IIRC) and were preparing for the final leg into the city.  I convinced them to wait for the launch.  It's good it wasn't delayed.  My brother (older brother, only sibling) had turned 18 and had started working, so he couldn't come with us. Or, perhaps, it was his developing relationship with his girlfriend whom he married within a couple of years. 

I was the space geek.  In elementary school, four years before, a NASA educational outreach program had come to my school and hooked me.  Borrowing mom's typewriter, I had typed letters to the educational outreach and public relations offices for NASA in DC and the KSC eventually filling a large box with NASA publications.  After years of studying the details of the trip and how it would all unfold, I'd patiently explain all the acronyms and details as they came up.

For the rest of the Apollo 11 mission, we were on that trip.  Some memories are clear and vivid; others less so.  Like so many people, I believed that by now we'd have colonies on the moon and have visited Mars.  Perhaps outposts on Mars as well.  Pardon me if I get a little wistful during these posts about 11. 


  1. I had just graduated High-School, and was in awe of these men.

    And I still am.....

  2. I was the last week of summer school after 6th grade. A TV was wheeled into the class. That entire week of class was watching a televised tour of Kennedy and Johnson, the VLA, the arrival of the astrosnots, preparations for lift-off, the amazing lift-off, and all that followed. Occasional reports would 'interrupt' the class. Summer school was over when the moon landing came but most of us came into school to watch.

    Several years before some venture advertised on the back of comic books a complete scale model of Canaveral which you could build. Just tape a dime to the return postcard to get started. Let me tell you, that model was complicated what with all the piping and staging. It was a good challenge to the model maker, which just about every kid was. There were also scale models of the Command Module and Lunar Lander. For $1.50 you could buy a very accurate scale model of the entire Saturn V. IIRC, it stood about 36" when complete.

    I'm thinking that libraries and county fairs may have a presentation to commemorate the achievement. Check your nearby libraries and county fairs.


  3. brother [...] had turned 18 and had started working [...] developing relationship with his girlfriend whom he married within a couple of years

    The past is a foreign country. He's supposed to stay in school at hand-to-mouth wages until age 30, then have enough school debt to not be able to buy a house. Zoning will ban him from building a small house incrementally, or starting and owning a business. She's supposed to not pair bond with one particular man and make a family until after age 35, when most of her fertility and pair-bonding instinct has timed out.

    Government liberal feminism says you're supposed to fail at ordinary life, that's the goal. Government Christian conservatism says you're supposed to obey the powers that be, that's the goal. Instead of train stations, the Americans have universities, which are baited with a fun 'hunt the zipper' game lifestyle.

    Everyone except the extreme libertarians is a snitch for the government. Functionally, brain activity called good intentions has no effect on the physical universe outside their heads; what does alter the universe is action. Functionally, snitches are the enemy, and their good intentions are irrelevant to everyone other than them.