Space Shuttle Atlantis Abstract Kennedy Space Center Museum, Florida
We have finally returned to launching Americans on a US launch vehicle from US soil. The SpaceX launch vehicle with the Crew Dragon onboard provided this signifiant milestone in our revitalized Space Program on 30 May. We have a new horizon of Space exploration ahead of us with defined programs to return to the moon and send Americans to Mars. This will happen in my life time!
I remember the launch of the Sputnik when I was in grade school. This was followed by our country’s aggressive program to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. I remember the Gemini Program highlighted by Shepard’s first flight into space and John Glenn’s record orbit around the earth. I remember the failures and successes of the Apollo program, culminating in Armstrong’s first step on the Moon in the summer of 1969. I also remember the miracle of Apollo 13.
While at Boeing, I had the opportunity to work with several of the engineers and leaders who were an integral part of the Apollo Saturn V rocket program, the Lunar Rover program and the Space Shuttle program. I moved to Washington, DC and was Boeing’s technical liaison between our Seattle staff and NASA. I met Michael Collins, the astronaut who stayed in the command module while Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. I worked with General Abramson, the ex-Shuttle Program Manager, on Strategic Defense Initiative programs. I watched the Challenger disaster with several of my Boeing associates in our Washington, DC Control Room. One of my bosses became the leader of the Space Station Integration program. I was part of our National Space Program.
When we exited from space launch programs with the last Shuttle flight in 2011, I felt a deep loss of US leadership in Space. Now after 9 years, we have made our first significant step toward the World’s New Horizon. We have returned … How proud it makes me feel.
“Hosta, Japanese Maple, & Ground Cover” Fountainville, PA Garden
Tones, textures, and shapes all combine to provide vignettes of enjoyment for me. Simple things perk my interest. I first see the bright chartreuse of the hosta jump out at me. I stop, focus, and follow the lines and shapes of the leaves. I am drawn into the details. The dense and darker ground cover creates a base supporting the hosta leaves. I raise my eyes and see the small, delicate leaves of the Japanese Maple trickling down over the large hosta leaves protecting them from the bright sun. What a wonderful moment I experience just enjoying the simple beauty of a garden.
It took many years to create this vignette. First, we dug up a portion of our yard and added a good quanty of fill dirt and top soil to create a planting bed. We edged the bed with Pennsylvania blue stone to keep the dirt from flowing over to the grass and gravel walk way. Our first planting was a bed of petunias. They were beautiful but took a lot of maintenance to keep them looking neat. After a couple of years, we planted a Sango Kaku Japanese Maple on the corner of the bed. We planted several sun loving plants around the base of the maple and patiently waited until the maple created enough shade to plant shade-loving plants. We gradually pulled out and transplanted the sun-lovers and replaced them with hostas and other shade plants. Over the years the ground cover spread as the hostas grew. The bottom branches of the Sango Kaku flowed down to provide the shade the hosta needed. Fifteen years after we moved in, we had a beautiful bed with Japanese Maples at each end, medium sized shrubs in the middle, and all the ground covered with ground cover and shade-loving plants. Small vignettes were scattered all around.
Now on the other side of the country, we are starting over to develop a landscape that will have a similar feeling. Now we have small trees and shrubs and a lot of sun-loving plants. The areas between are covered with bark. We patiently will wait for nature to do its work to develop the mini environments to create vignettes like the one above. We celebrate the little things that make up the wonder of nature and life.
Let us not forget all those who have given their lives to give us the freedom that we now have. Let us look back in history and understand all the difficult situations we have encountered and faced as a nation. Let us remember what it took to overcome those times.
Our current situation with the Covid-19 virus is minor compared to what we have faced before. Yet we are fighting amongst ourselves on how to move forward. Rather than fight, let all of us focus on how we can move forward to assure a strong recovery and a safe environment. It will take patience, compromise, and sacrifice. But as many times before, we can do it!
The path in front of us may seem daunting. It is dark, winding and uncertain. We have a long way to travel, but there is light ahead. There is a path, we must all pull together, keep our faith, and help each other remain on it. Falling off the path is not an option if we are to reach the light.
The peak of the pandemic is a few weeks ahead. Maintaining our social distance from each other is critical to minimizing the size of the peak. Let’s all stay on the path!
“For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon, and to the planets beyond and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.”
John F. Kennedy
Six years can make a tremendous difference. When I visited Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 2014, the attitude of many of the KSC employees was very negative. President Obama had recently cut significant funding for NASA and the Space Program. The Administration was pushing for commercial ventures to move the Space Program forward. Severe cutbacks were being made across the Program. Many KSC employees did not see a future ahead for them.
This March during our visit to KSC, things seemed quite different. There was a a flurry of activity preparing for future launches. International commercial joint ventures had taken over the responsibility for commercial launches. Programs are being put in place to return to the Moon and to launch manned space flights to Mars. Global governmental and private entities are binding together to tackle this venture. Funding is being provided by private, commercial, and governmental sources.
Where have I been? I am embarrassed to say, but my eyes have been closed to news regarding the International Space Program for years. I was totally taken back to the level of activity going on. It made me want to put my childhood “Space Cadet Wings” back on. Kennedy’s vision is moving forward!