Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Good Day In New York City

Yesterday was a pretty cool day in NYC. We had the flyover of the space shuttle trainer that will be permanently housed at the Intrepid Museum along the Hudson River in New York City. Watching the Shuttle piggybacked onto a NASA 747 swoop through lower Manhattan glistening in the sunshine made me giddy as a schoolgirl and proud to be an American.

Yes, I am a child of the "Space Age". I remember watching with silent anticipation as numerous astronauts blasted off into space and being giddy at the final countdown as we all shouted "Blast Off" as the giant thrusters hurled these brave men into orbit. Knowing how important these events were to our young American minds, my elementary teachers brought small black and white televisions into the classroom, the lights were turned off, and we were allowed to watch the events unfold live before our very eyes. All other broadcasting ceased while these brave men risked their lives hurling themselves atop a giant Saturn V rocket. These men were our heroes - real heroes. President Kennedy, President Johnson, and, yes, President Nixon encouraged us to reach for the stars and every little boy wanted to be an astronaut (and even little girls too!). We were told that we were in a race for the future of the world and whoever wins would dominate. Who would win this race - the evil Russians or the Good Americans? These men and their rocketships were the key to a secure world for freedom loving people everywhere.

Twelve years after watching Neil Armstrong step on the Moon, once again I was sitting in a darkened room watching a small black and white television with the same child-like anticipation waiting for the Space Shuttle Columbia to make its first touchdown ushering a new era of space flight. It was still breathtaking. Since then we have had SkyLab, the International Space Station, unmanned flights to Mars, and the Hubble telescope which have all allowed us to see further into space with each new achievement and the benefits to mankind have been numerous.

We were indoctrinated as young children of the '60's to believe that we were the greatest nation on Earth and that we could achieve great things if we worked together. What our country has achieved though the space program with all the astronauts, scientists, engineers, and medical personnel is something that no head of state or politician has ever achieved without a war - global cooperation for the benefit of all mankind. It may be the indoctrination talking, but that makes me pretty darn proud to be an American.

30 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

works for me!

BevfromNYC said...

Oh, btw, the photo was taken by a friend as I was I was screaming at her to not look, just take photos! Thanks Darlyne!

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: And our next stop is Mars, if the Chinese will make room on their space vehicles for American hitch-hiking astronauts. Thanks, Barack Obama.

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, LawHawk, and thanks to people like ScottD and the researchers at NASA Houston, we may get to go someday...maybe...if we can pay back our loans. Of course the Johnson Space Center in Houston has now ceased operations and is just a glorified space museum (Thanks Barack) and it still didn't get a shuttle to display. But hey, NYC doesn't have enough famous landmarks to make it worthwhile for tourists to visit, so we needed one more. I'm guessing the Statue of Liberty wasn't working its magic anymore...

BevfromNYC said...

But I didn't want to go there. This was supposed to be looking on the bright side...

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I like looking on the bright side. Our next great national monument will be a huge statue of The One slinking back to Chicago with his tail between his legs. We could put it right in front of the all-new and improved NASA Mars Space Center where President Mitt Romney will declare a reopening of the final frontier and the payoff of the Chinese loans.

Great photo, by the way.

BevfromNYC said...

Aw, man, do we have to give "The One" a statue at all? Maybe it can be a statue at the bottom of the Indian Ocean to commemorate The One's greatest (if not his only) achievement - a dead bin Laden?

LawHawkRFD said...

That'll work. LOL

BevfromNYC said...

Since Obama doesn't seem have any records before he became President, do you think his Presidential Library will need to be more than a small retail space in strip mall?

CrisD said...

This is the place we could agree to cut the budget at all. Oh, yeah...we don't have a budget...

PS Nice photo, Bev. Bittersweet.

tryanmax said...

Bev, in my perfect world, the BHO Presidential Library would house enough indictments to justify erecting a small suburb.

T-Rav said...

I wish I had grown up in the Apollo or early Space Shuttle years. I didn't think I would care much watching the shuttles come in this week, but turns out I couldn't look away.

tryanmax--So what you're saying is, in your perfect world Barack Obama would still have become President?

tryanmax said...

Perfect world moving forward.

BevfromNYC said...

You know, CrisD - It's really sad that we can't "indoctrinate" our children to believe that we are truly a great nation that has and can achieve great things. And that we are only limited by our own imaginations and drive.

Those of us born before the instant information age - ironically brought about by the Space Age - were most likely reared by parents and grandparents who knew real sacrifice, hardship, and hard work and achievement and who taught us the value of all of these. Sorry, I pontificate and frankly, I know that I'm preaching to the choir...

CrisD said...

Yes,Bev-
And how do we teach these children to dig themselves out of our parents debt, our debt and current spending?
It is a formidable challenge indeed.

AndrewPrice said...

Cris, You put your finger right on the problem. Despite all this talk about "kids today" (which every generation says) the real problem is the adults today, i.e. that very large generation that gave us Woodstock, the "Me Generation", and then spent the country to the brink of disaster.

AndrewPrice said...

The problem with the shuttle is that it's 1960s technology. NASA failed to innovate for the last 40+ years.

There are now numerous commercial space ventures which are doing much more with much less. That's the future. And I honestly expect it will be a private company which lands the first person on Mars.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - You are absolutely right. Parents my age did not want to be "the boss of them" with their children. They did not want to taint their children with the "hang ups" we got from our parents born of the Depression and WWII and Korean War. We've had very few "parents" raising children in the last generation. Weirdly, we've physically protected our children with pads and helmets and whatnot, but we have not mentally or spiritually protected them. There is as much danger with too much information than not enough...

Sorry, I've had a fever for a couple of days...

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - you are so right. We didn't do anything progress to the next level of spaceship technology. It is time for the private sector to take over, but we need to somehow find that "pride" of collective achievement again.

AndrewPrice said...

All very true -- especially the "I want to be my kid's best friend" routine. Ug. We saw the consequences of that in school all the time as these kids had zero self-control.

My parents actually just predate the Boomers and it's fascinating how different they are from the parents of my friends who were Boomers. My parents were big on the "classical" values like hardwork and helping those around you, whereas so many of the Boomer parents I knew really were all about themselves. Lots of divorce, rampant selfish consumerism, and almost no values to be seen. And many of these people who didn't care for their own parents as they got older or their kids as they grew up are now all upset that their kids aren't caring for them. Gee, I wonder why? You reap what you sow.

I hope you feel better.

CrisD said...

Hey Bev,
The clueless twenty somethings of today voted in droves for Obama and will be fed soundbites of Jimmy Kimmel at Correspondants dinner on Jon Stewart tomorrow night. The bow to Ozero and know not why.

Feel better! It was a great post and reminded me of the good ole days.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, It bugs me a lot that NASA has become second rate. That never should have happened, but it did. I would honestly love to see it recapture it's spirit and make America proud again. But we need very different leadership for that.

In the meantime, the best thing they could do would be to start working with these private firms in partnership.

AndrewPrice said...

"I hope you feel better" -- re the fever, not the other stuff.

K said...

It's interesting that where NASA is concerned, conservatives suddenly morph into "yes we can" big government boosters.

If NASA were in charge of building the transcontinental railroad in 1873, and the development of the aeroplane in 1900, it would cost $500,000 to travel across the country today.

NASA is a big government bureaucracy, with a great PR team behind it. What other government department has it's own cable channel?

CrisD said...

Well, you know K, it is called the JFK Space Center...
But yes, we used to have shared goals, if that is what you mean.

AndrewPrice said...

Conservatives do fall for anti-crime, pro-military and pro-NASA spending too easily. But that doesn't mean there should be no NASA or military or police. NASA was vital to the development of modern national security. Without it, there would be no missile systems, no GPS, and history would have been very different.

The problem is mission creep, when these agencies start getting sidetracked into things they were never meant to do.

K said...

Andrew: The missile systems? The GPS? All developed by the military. The redstone, atlas and titan rockets that sent the first astronauts into orbit - military. The small integrated circuits that made it possible for satellites to do all that great stuff in space - developed under military dollars. The Hubble telescope? A converted military spy sat.

AndrewPrice said...

K, NASA was created as the civilian face of the military's space efforts, replacing the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and absorbing part of the Army and Navy space research assets, but it and the military are deeply interrelated and have shared projects and facilities.

BevfromNYC said...

K -it's not NASA per se, but it's the pride of our collective achievement that is really the point that I am trying to make. We used be taught pride in achievement and now we are teaching the pride of just showing up.

What we have gained from the technological advancements far out weigh the money invested. We have lost our spirit of exploration for the sake of exploration...just to see what's on the other side of the mountain.

K said...

Andrew:The NACA did a good job of using government funds to underwrite research and development - which was then used by private industry when and where appropriate to create high tech aerospace products. IMO this is what NASA should be doing now.

NASA, as presently constituted is a kind of government aerospace combine. It failed to build "Space Station Freedom" and had to be bailed out by foreign participation. NASA failed to build a 1970s technology man carrying rocket and capsule just to get to the space station and spent more money on that failure than SpaceX (using old NASA R&D) ever has on their entire development program. For an example illustrating my objection to NASA as presently constituted, I suggest googling "R100" and "R101" - known as the capitalist airship and the socialist airship and compare the outcomes.

Bev: The collective achievement of the collective US space program was just a part of the collective achievement of beating International Communism - when it had half the world in it's grip. Unfortunately, once you pull the collectivist genie from the bottle it's tough to get it back in again.

Where does US technology dominate the world now? For one example, computer software - a place where the government had little or no impact besides copyright and where individuals - the most famous of which dropped out of the education factory culture to pursue their individualist dreams of mental exploration.

I agree with you that we have lost our spirit of exploration for the sake of it - IMO because we've lost sight of what being an individual means. People who are smashed into groups and given prizes for nothing are not going to cure cancer - or build the infrastructure that will take you to Mars or the moons of Saturn for what the average tourist can afford.

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