Posts Tagged ‘moon shot’

Thanks to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center for Great Service to Columbus Seniors

October 17, 2011

After last week’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center C.A.L.L. class on America’s putting men on the moon, I went up to instructor Scott Norman, shown above, who  is Director of the Challenger Center for the CCSSC, and told him that his presentation was superb – it definitely was – and recalled my experience of watching the first moon landing on TV.

On July  20, 1969, my wife Judy, ten-year-old son Rick, one of his buddies, and I were sitting in our den in our home in Columbia, South Carolina – I was working for WIS-TV at the time – watching breathlessly as Neil Armstrong       stepped onto the surface of the Moon.  At the same time that we were watching this live TV coverage, we could look through our sliding glass doors and see the Moon.  This was probably the most spectacular TV show ever. I can’t think of anything that tops it.

Scott Norman and CCSSC Director Shawn Cruzen are two of the best teachers I have ever had. They are inventive, creative, humorous, and stay on the move as they use Power Point, videos and even hand-held models to hold interest and impart tons of information. The secret of their success is simply that they are totally passionate about their subject.

This quarter Scott is teaching “The History of Space” to a bunch of seniors like me who participate in the Columbus Academy Lifelong Learning program at the CSU Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center for Continuing Education.

The course deals with the development of the space programs in the United States and the Soviet Union, and now Russia, that started back in 1957 when the USSR launched Sputnik.  It continues right up until now, a time when the United States has to depend on Russia to provide rides to the International Space Station because the U.S. space shuttle program ended recently.

It is truly a dramatic subject, with upbeat highlights like our Apollo Moon exploration program that put men on the Moon, and with the tragic lows of losing lives to a fire in a space capsule training mission, and, later, exploding shuttles.  It is a very exhilarating, but extremely dangerous business.

Thanks to all of the great folks at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center for the truly compelling and entertaining classes you are supplying seniors of our area who know that a vital part of living is learning, something  one should never stop doing.

The class continues Thursday. Circumstances permitting, I’ll definately be there.

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The Endeavour Night Launch Reminds Me of the Night Launch I Saw 38 Years Ago

February 15, 2010

Endeavour crew space-walks to work on the International Space Station (NASA photo)

 

As I follow the news from NASA about the space shuttle Endeavour mission, which marked the last night launch of the shuttle program,  I remember the only space shot I witnessed at the Kennedy Space Center.  Ledger-Enquirer photographer and friend Lawrence Smith offered me a ride on a friend’s airplane to witness the night launch of Apollo 17.  Armed with my WRBL-TV 16 mm movie camera and my own still camera, I joined Lawrence and his friend and another man to take off from Columbus on the morning of December 6, 1972, . It was an interesting ride because we had to fly around a lot of thunder storms.  It was worth the excitement to see the first night Apollo launch, which also happened to be the last time Americans went to the moon.  

On December 7th, 1972, at 12:33 a.m. , Apollo 17 launches and heads for the moon. (NASA photo)

 

The pictures that the astronauts sent back on the way and on the moon were spectacular.  

Eugene Cernan walks on the moon (NASA photo)

 

Up until recently, there were plans for America to go to the moon again.  That idea has been scuttled, I’m told.  Americans were supportive of the moon shots almost 40 years ago, but priorities have changed, and unless there is some catastrophic accident, space shots get little publicity.  Save Space, a Florida website, is trying to get people to write Congress to save the space flight program.  It points out what the space program has given the world. 

“Satellite communications, microwaves, cellular phones, miniaturized computers, pacemakers, kidney dialysis, scratch-resistant lenses, medical and sports technology, adjustable smoke detectors, cordless tools, and water filters are just a few examples of the advances that have occurred through NASA space research. Not to mention the entrepreneurs, jobs, and commercial aspects of many space research spin-offs.” 

Wikipedia says this is probably the most reproduced picture in the world. It is earth as seen from the space craft Apollo 17 five hours after lift-off on December 7, 1972. It's called "The Blue Marble." (NASA photo)