Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Later in My Life: Space For Sale.

As already mentioned in a posting, I am a certified hardcore space nut and enjoy all things NASA. My opportunity to watch the maiden launch of the space shuttle DISCOVERY on August 30, 1984 was pictured yesterday and the impression might be that I was given special treatment because I was in the Florida Division of Tourism. That was NOT the case. Anybody can go watch a launch.

As you can see here, I was allowed access among many thousands of other people and we all were parked in a very organized, controlled - and safe - setting on a causeway at Cape Canaveral AF station looking toward Launch Pad 39. Very stringent and reasonable conditions were outlined on the back of the windshield pass and it was an excited animated crowd of young and old and families as the sun came up on the eagerly awaited third attempt to launch DISCOVERY.

This was early in the program - the 12th Space Shuttle launch - and in the next 22 years, the list would grow to more than 115 missions unfortunately marred by two catastrophic disasters.

A manifest for this 41D mission showed that an IMAX camera was on board - only the 2nd time - and perhaps we have seen some footage from this Discovery when we went to our local IMAX theater.

I was surfing the web one day and, on a NASA link, I looked up the Apollo Astronaut Commander David Scott whose father we interviewed when I worked with the San Diego Union back in the 60s. The son indeed was one of the 12 men who walked on the moon and one of the few who actually drove a vehicle on the lunar surface.

Looking around the web site, I found the 200 page manual on how to unload the Lunar Rover, set it up and align the solar batteries to power it up. It had a T shaped steering device centered between the two seats so either astronaut could drive and steer.

This is good to know because all three vehicles are still sitting up there on the moon, unchanged in the vacuum of space. The key might still be in the ignition.

As I continued looking at photos that had been sent back from the moon - and the site offers videos I haven't watched yet - I relived those wonderful days.

A few years ago, just before I retired, I sold advertising for the Post and Courier. Get it? I was selling space...Ad space.


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