As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of putting men on the moon I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a quick look at NASAs space program which lead up to that point in 1969. First of all one has to appreciate the spirit of courage it took for three men to allow themselves to be inserted into a capsule the size of an RV bathroom (actually 154 inches in circumference at its widest point at the bottom of the capsule – this is an outside measurement not inside) and spend several days together in tight quarters with a thin shell surrounding them from the vacuum of space. This also includes the kahunas required to sit atop over 200 feet of of liquid propellant which was required to get the small part of the unit required to reach escape velocity to get them to the moon.
I was raised into the space age and followed the space program through elementary school and beyond. I remember wanting to do a report for school on rockets so I wrote to NASA at Cape Canaveral requesting material for said report. A few weeks later I received a large box packed full of books, flyers and posters which covered everything from the first Atlas rockets through the Saturn V which launched the first men to the moon. This included the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. I put together my report and went on to do a science fair project.
It was a great time to be a kid watching this all unfold on T.V. with Walter Cronkite giving the play by play. We still had black and white TV back then. Computers were analog and most everything was hard wired with mechanical relays. Looking back at the technology back then it was amazing all of this went together as well as it did with the exception of a cockpit fire which killed Michigan’s own Roger Chaffee along with Virgil Grissom and Edward White in 1967.
We have come a long ways since the days when engineers in white shirts and narrow ties worked in front of consoles with slide rules in hand to bring forth the marvelous achievements in the beginning of the space age. Space suits back then were the astronauts living quarters including their bathroom which, when one thinks about it must have been rather uncomfortable with a rich miasma of smells in close quarters.
So, in closing, I salute the men who chose the path of becoming astronauts in those days, knowing that they would have to deal with uncomfortable conditions in exploration of the void.
We are dealing with some thunder and rain this morning in Otsego as the cold front has set up shop along our southern border. We have had an inch of rain over the past 24 hours, nothing like the 12 inches reported yesterday in Millerton in Mason County. Other reports are – 9.5 at Custer, 6″ at Irons in Lake Co., 5.15″ at Bear Lake, 4.59″ at Chase in Lake Co., 4″ at Ashton, 2.6″ Walhalla in Mason Co., 2.51″ Ludington.
Cooler weather is in store with lower humidities – one may have to break out the jackets as it may feel cold after the heat we had to endure.
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