Tag Archives: astronaut

Space – The Final Frontier

Gene Kranz–THE Flight Director

I grew up during the early days of the space program. At night, when Echo I–a satellite that was essentially a giant, shiny Mylar balloon–passed overhead, the whole family would go outside. A clear sky, the overflight time from the local newspaper, and we’d watch until we saw that tiny speck of light pass overhead.

The Mercury program gave us America’s first manned space flights when I was in grade school. For each launch, someone would bring a transistor radio–the latest thing–and the whole class would listen. Somewhere during the tail end of the Mercury program and the beginning of the Gemini program, the radio was replaced by a television. While most televisions were large and treated as a piece of furniture, some of my classmates had a smaller television that was (barely) light enough to transport to school. The picture was black and white, but then, most televisions were.

When Apollo 11 landed on the moon, I sat on the couch with my girlfriend and watched, transfixed. Apollo 12 didn’t generate as much interest, but when Apollo 13 suffered a near catastrophic explosion, everybody followed coverage until the astronauts were safely home.

Later, when I lived in Florida, along the Space Coast, I could watch launches–including the space shuttles–from my driveway. One time I drove up to Cape Canaveral to watch a shuttle launch up close. First there was the sight of the liftoff, which was followed by the sonic roar and a pressure wave against my chest that attested to the power of the engines.

But, what I remember most fondly, is the final stage of the countdown as the flight director polled each section to ensure that the mission could be successfully launched .
“Medical?” “Go!”
“Range?” “Go!”
“CapCom?” “Go!”
“Flight?” “Go!”

Each function had to make sure their area of responsibility was ready. Each wanted desperately to add their affirmation–to say yes and to agree to move forward.

Contrast that with today when so many people are so eager to say “No.”

Random Issues and Other Nonsense

Courtesy: NASA

Courtesy: NASA

Computer wonks professionals are always focused on security above all else. Of course, the most secure computer is the one that is not only disconnected from the internet, but also, unplugged, disassembled and the individual pieces mashed with a sledgehammer.

Therefore, it was no surprise that I received a computer peripheral for my “Home Cloud” that had seals on the cardboard box stating that opening the cardboard box would void the warranty.

My family used to have a tradition of passing an item – a cheap ceramic jar labeled as a “Penny Jar” so that each birthday, holiday, or whatever, it would show up. Sadly it eventually broke. However, with re-gifting now a common practice, there have to be items that keep getting passed along and never actually used; Christmas fruitcake doesn’t count.

Samantha Cristoforetti, an astronaut on the International Space Station is from Italy (and a ham radio operator who talks to kids in school by radio). The Italians have some of their priorities set right, and they designed an espresso machine specifically to work on the space station—the other astronauts drink instant coffee. It finally arrived after a launch mishap (explosion) of a supply rocket in January. If I were an executive with Starbucks, I would be soooooooooooo embarrassed that the Italians beat us to this milestone.

Finally, I have to wonder why certain otherwise normal people feel compelled to write blogs.