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Old 01-26-2018, 07:23 PM
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beckychestney beckychestney is offline
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Space Memories

It's a tough week for NASA, the one that starts tomorrow. Why? Well, nobody could have wanted to predict that the three greatest tragedies in the history of the U.S. manned spaceflight program would all line up the way they did, albeit years apart. Some of you may not know exactly when these things happened, so here's the list:
  1. January 27, 1967 Apollo 1
  2. January 28, 1986 Challenger
  3. February 1, 2003 Columbia
That's a lot of heroes to remember in such a short frame of time. Seventeen, to be exact. Yet, we do honor and remember them.

But why? Where am I going with this?

In my opinion, their greatest accomplishment, the prime reason for NASA to exist at all, is to inspire. Without inspiration there is no innovation. And having an avenue for innovation is an absolute necessity in this world.

So. Do you remember a specific time or a special event related to NASA or any space program (no matter where on earth it operates out of) that inspired you to learn?

For me the specific causes are hard to pin down. I was born in November of 1969 between the flights of Apollo 11 and 12 and the world I grew up in was still very "over the moon" about having gone to the moon. I know my dad hung a poster insert from National Geographic on my bedroom wall that was a painting of all the Apollo astronauts standing in groups on the moon's surface when I was very young. I can also credit my Aunt Carol who was a fifth grade teacher who took us to the Visitor Information Center at Lewis Research Center at least once a year (usually in the late summer just before school started so she could keep up with current space events).

But there was another event in my young life that's hard to gloss over. I'm talking about this:

April, 1979. In the center of the photo you see my Mom in blue shorts and my Aunt Carol in green shorts running. Why? Because I bolted for the big space ship the second I got off the bus of course! Look to the left of the right landing gear and you'll see a nine year old Becky gazing up in awe. And yes, I'm sure I tried to reach the bottom of the wing with my fingertips.

That trip was also my first time at Walt Disney World and well, we all know where THAT lead! But I only have one surviving souvenir from WDW that I can date to that specific trip: a collector coin. And it's the only souvenir I specifically remember buying at Disney in 1979. On the other hand, I remember vividly all the stuff I brought home (and one I didn't) from the Kennedy Space Center gift shop. And here are the survivors:

The KSC guidebook has lost it's cover, but I think it still exists. The book on the Space Shuttle is from 1977, so almost everything in it is concept art or speculation except for the photos and data concerning the test flights of Enterprise. Speaking of, I know you can't possibly miss the single greatest souvenir I got on that trip! Yes, it's bruised, battered and beaten. The tip of the right wing, 2 of the SSME's, both OMS engines, half the elevator and, most noticeable, the tail is missing. But it's still priceless to me! Because it reminds me of the moment I can't possibly hope to remember in the kind of detail I wish I could: the moment I touched a space ship that wasn't encased in plastic.

There were other NASA souvenirs from that trip that are long gone. I also brought home an Estes Mercury Redstone rocket kit. It was the old style with a balsa capsule that you applied stickers to. And I remember buying a radiometer. And just now as I typed this I remembered it broke when it got knocked off the window sill in the hotel room. If you're not familiar with radiometers, they look like a big light bulb with black rectangles inside that spin around when exposed to solar radiation. Also incredibly fragile! Oh well, I bought one at my local NASA museum gift shop when I got home!

There were other trips with exciting events. In 1983 I saw Challenger on the pad ready for launch and in eight years later I finally got to see one. In November 1991, I saw the night launch of Atlantis! I remember touring blockhouses and decommissioned launch sites. In eighth grade I went to the Air and Space Museum as was typical at that time. The yearly trips to the VIC with my Aunt continued and when I had my own car I went on my own. I collected patches, collector coins and built models. Which continues to about 2 hours ago when I finished building a Thor-Able Tiros from And there's no end in sight!

In the final analysis maybe touching the Enterprise isn't a singular inspirational event in my life. Maybe it's more accurate to call it a "cementing" event in the history of my interest in space flight. Whatever you want to call it, and however it happened, my fascination hasn't ebbed. That fascination spun off genuine respect for the people who inspired me to learn.

And my respects are what I pay now.

Stay inspired!
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Old 01-26-2018, 08:51 PM
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Wyvern Wyvern is offline
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Enjoyed your childhood memories, and the reminder of those we’ve lost.

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Old 01-26-2018, 09:33 PM
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DWest DWest is offline
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Great post , thanks!
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Old 01-26-2018, 11:27 PM
colwyne colwyne is offline
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Thankyou, great post, took me back many years
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Old 01-26-2018, 11:34 PM
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shipbuild shipbuild is offline
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Thanks for sharing ! very well written !
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Old 01-26-2018, 11:56 PM
Mark Hansen Mark Hansen is offline
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Originally Posted by beckychestney View Post
...I know my dad hung a poster insert from National Geographic on my bedroom wall that was a painting of all the Apollo astronauts standing in groups on the moon's surface when I was very young. ...
I'm sure I know this poster and I had it. I may still have it somewhere. Did it have the photo of Earth from the Apollo 17 mission on the reverse?
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Old 01-27-2018, 04:21 AM
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gotham gotham is offline
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If it wasn't for brave people like the NASA crews, Man would have never left the ground, let alone walk on the Moon. 🖖
"It's all in the reflexes."
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Old 01-27-2018, 06:16 AM
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peter taft peter taft is offline
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Thanks for sharing. Great post of memories.
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Old 01-27-2018, 06:19 AM
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SCEtoAUX SCEtoAUX is offline
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Nice story. Thanks for sharing.
AC010202 EAMUS CATULI! Audere est Facere 19**-20** R.I.P. it up, Tear it up, Have a Ball
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Old 01-27-2018, 06:47 AM
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wideride wideride is offline
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Me and about six other kids in our school were members of the NASA Explores Club. That was one of the programs developed by NASA to fire up us young school age children to the space program, and maybe inspire some of us to look at a career in engineering or the sciences. We met every Friday with one of our science teachers, during lunch, just to keep up with the space program and show off the posters, booklets and models that came thru the mail nearly every week.
1-27-1967 was a Friday. The announcement came over the intercom to whole school. Gus Grissom grew up just 50 miles north of here. He was a local hero that would visit schools around the area, when he had the chance. We had just talked about the capsule tests going on at the space center that day.
Grissom. White. Chaffee. Three space heroes gone.
One of those days that I've never forgotten.
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