Monday, January 28, 2013

In Case of Disaster

The full moon.  It fascinates all of us.  So hard to believe that mankind last walked on the moon nearly 40 years ago, and may not return in my lifetime.

So hard to believe we are no longer running a manned space program, when it was such a part of my childhood growing up in the 1950's and 1960's.

The moon.

(Full Wolf Moon, taken yesterday in Putnam County, New York, courtesy of RamblinwithAM).

On January 28, 1986 the shuttle Challenger exploded approximately 73 seconds after its liftoff from Cape Kennedy, Florida. All seven astronauts aboard perished, including a  high school teacher, Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian scheduled to go into space.

The space shuttles were grounded for two years.  Of course now, the program is over.  Dead.

I sometimes wonder if the Challenger explosion, 27 years ago today, somehow was the beginning of the end of the United States manned space effort.  It was a pivotal moment for an entire generation, who remembered where they were and what they were doing the same way my generation remembered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

But, in 1969, we did something more dangerous than sending up a space shuttle.  We sent three astronauts to the moon for the first time, using technology more primitive than that of 1986.  Especially of some concern was the moon lander, which also needed to launch the two moon landing astronauts back to the mother ship.  Obviously, it had never received a full manned field test on the moon.

What would have happened, if the mission had failed and the astronauts had been stranded on the moon?  Have you ever wondered?

It turns out that our government was prepared, with instructions on how to proceed, and a speech was even written for the President - written by someone who went to my high school,  the late William Safire.

It's a sobering speech, and one that was not needed.

But when I look at the moon - I still wonder - had the Challenger not exploded, would man have returned by now?

9 comments:

  1. I am so touched with the combination of the subject, your way with words and the entire looks of your blog. I want to see what your other blogs have to say. Thanksfor sharing.
    PS I love your way of setting boundaries about comments. You go girl.

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    1. "My Blog List" isn't a list of my blogs. That is what Blogger named the list--another common name is a Blog Roll". Perhaps I should change the name to something else.

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  2. I did not see a comment section for the Cicil War Women. That is yours correct?
    I found the imforamtion fasinating. it may interst you to know that my late parents had owned a house that had been part of the underground railroad.

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    1. If you are asking about the list of blogs on the right side of my blog's main page, that is my "blog roll": blogs that interest me enough that I list them. No, I don't write all those blogs. One is work enough!! I would like to learn more about the house your late parents owned (that was a stop on the Underground Railroad). We have several such houses here locally in upstate New York.

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  3. You knew William Safire!? Oh how lucky you are and I am so pleased for you. Safire was an extraordinarily far-sighted journalist and a gifted dragon-slayer of the sloppy misuse of the English/American language.

    He was the man who inspired me to submit my very first articles to the press and to blog on current affairs. Safire is irreplaceable as far as I'm concerned...

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    1. No, alas, I did not know William Safire. It is true he went to my high school, but I should have added that I wasn't attending it at the time! He graduated before I was born. I never got to meet him. My husband used to read Safire's language column and loved it.

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  4. I think that the Challenger disaster was the bookend to Vietnam- where America no longer doubted its invincibility, but began to wonder if spending money to achieve dreams is a viable concept, where assurng that we strive to keep making this place the strata of dreams and potential should continue.

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    1. You may well be right. I was so saddened by the ending of the space program. And, I had to hear a radio DJ today making fun of Iran's claim that they shot a monkey into space and brought it back alive. Maybe the DJ shouldn't laugh too much.

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  5. I saw that moon the other night, it was spectacular. Your post made me remember and once again be in awe of the fact that "we" were actually able to touch it.

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