Do you remember where you were 40 years ago today? Jim Lovell and Fred Haise certainly do.
You kids today, you just don’t know how easy you’ve got it!
40 years ago, Mr. Lovell and Mr. Haise would have given their eye teeth for an iPad. They had two computers but they had to write down data on a scrap of paper from one computer then retype it into the other. Mr. Lovell even had to do arithmetic on paper to make sure he converted the data so it would work in the second computer. There wasn’t even any email! They had to write letters. With pens. There was no Sony Playstation with high-res 3-D graphics. There was not even an Atari 2600 with Space Invaders or Asteroids. Those games got faster and faster until you died.
As an aside, the iPad, the Playstation, the Atari, the computer that runs your Toyota, and your microwave oven all came out of space program engineering.
Apollo 13 launched on April 11, 1970, 40 years ago yesterday, at 13:13 hours CST. That third Apollo mission was expected to land on the Moon, but an unplanned event forced an ABEND to the mission. And gave us a new phrase that bridged the generations.
“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
Jack Swigert, the man who announced the problem to the world, died of bone cancer in 1982, one of only 24 people ever to have flown to the Moon. Ever. Mr. Lovell and Mr. Haise are two of the 24.
There have been 131 manned U.S. missions into space including Shuttle Discovery, in space now to deliver a logistics module to the International Space Station as well as three spacewalks.
President Obama has killed the shuttle program. STS-131 is the fourth from the last shuttle mission. Ever.
President Obama has killed Project Constellation. That $108 billion program to develop the next generation of rockets and space vehicles is dead.
President Obama has no plan to build any new rocket capable of carrying men into space. Manned space travel will be outsourced just as tech support and kids’ toys and the shirt on your back has been. “We’ll just let the Russians or Chinese do that for us.” NASA will no longer be able to dream about flying astronauts beyond Earth orbit. NASA will no longer be able to dream.
Since those heady days 40 years ago, no man has had to walk twenty-five miles to school every morning, uphill, barefoot. Both ways. And according to this president’s plan no American man ever will again.
Great Britain, a country entirely surrounded by water, stopped being a seafaring nation when George V stopped sending brave men in ships to the sea.
America stopped being a great spacefaring nation when Barack Obama stopped sending brave men in ships into space.
We didn’t, either country, go down in a great battle. We whimpered out of the room without a fight.