|Spacex Dragon - Manned Rocket to Space Station - 2020|
ROCKET LAUNCH DAY - The big launch is today at 4:33 PM. It really flashes me back to the summer of 1969 - when I was a student at Kutztown - taking 15 credits about space science. I was working as a life guard 5 hours a day in Tamaqua - and driving to Kutztown for two classes a day in the morning. I was driving a brand new 1969 VW - cost $1649 - long low payments. I really needed a good car that summer - with work and school. At the end of the season - in August - I drove that VW to Woodstock with Bob LeMaster and Bob Rowan. Also in August at the end of the life guard season - I drove the VW to Miami Beach. My friend Richard Kantor went along to split the gas money. It was a 30 hour trip then - all along Route 1. We did stop at Cape Canaveral to tour the space station. I would have given anything to stay there to work for NASA - but I had a year of college left to do.
I met Lulu that summer at the swimming pool. We started a two year romance that ended up with eloping in 1971 - to Miami Beach. We got a hotel there on the beach for $8 a night - and just enjoyed touring around Miami and swimming in the surf. There was a big planetarium in Miami and I dreamed of just staying and doing planetarium shows - I was certified to do that. Kutztown had a program called Astronomical Instrumentation and I was in that program when Apollo landed on the moon.
The Saturn 5 Rocket was essentially a big dumb booster powered by liquid fuels. It was designed by Nazi Doctor Werner Von Braun. It has less computer power than a standard cellphone. But boy did those boosters thunder your guts when it left the earth. NASA tried to make it seem possible for normal human flight - but the laws of physics will always make is very dangerous. Today - we are doing essentially doing the same thing - using a tremendous amount of fuel to get objects into earth’s orbit. 50 years I was teaching how it would get easier and easier - but it has not.
Maybe it was because I was 21 - and so full of pee and new knowledge - bravado. Now 50 years later - it seems more risky and dangerous than it did back then. NASA was America’s blonde haired wunderkind. It could do no wrong. After burning up 3 astronauts on the launch pad in Apollo 1 and two full Space Shuttle crews - we know poo happens.
In 1970 - I had a student Peter. He loved science so much that he took there of my courses. He was very motivated. We lost touch after a few years. I had wondered what became of him. 50 years later we made contact on the internet. We exchanged life histories. He became an engineer and worked on building the International Space Station. He also bought and flew a helicopter - which included a very serious wreck. Today he lives near Huntsville Alabama - where spaceships are made. It is also where Werner von Braun used to live. Pete has all sorts of radio equipment and he is following the space launch intently.
It was fun teaching earth and space science all those years. I had lots of maps - pictures - movies - models - and trips. In the 1980s - we added computers. Kids loved that stuff. Growing up in coal country in Tamaqua - there were very few really good jobs. Being a teacher was one of them. When the rocket blasts off today - all that comes racing back.