I just talked to Jessica Fox of NASA she was kind enough to say that she wanted me to just relax into the process. I sent an email to Jessica, Don Cohen and Ed Hoffman suggesting they come up with three key names or events that I might center the NASA story on. My son, Ted, thought the story could be about a NASA scientist whose work is crucial and whose story has not been told.
The emails in response to my NASA email asking for memories of space, were filled with wonderful stories. Carolyn Stearns wrote of loving science when she was a youngster. She remembered one space launch when she was in the car with her family. They arrived at their destination and the countdown was proceeding, ten, nine, eight, seven…As the countdown proceeded their parents wanted them to go shopping! Carolyn and her brother refused to get out of the car.
Gratia Banta said that ten months before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, four students, involved in an anti-Viet Nam War protest, were shot at Kent State by the National Guard. This became known as the Kent State Massacre. That reminded me 1969 was a time of national turmoil. The race to the moon took place in the context of the Cold War, the Viet Nam War and the Civil Rights revolution. At the end of her email. Gratia said, "The moon walk is always with me."
Pat Schneider, poet, novelist and one of the great writing teachers, said, "NASA was in the air we breathed, the conversations we had around the dinner table. My friends were excited by the appearance of Sputnik ñ so excited that for my wedding they gave me plates, cups, saucers, serving dishes and bowls all decorated with little aqua-colored Sputniks. For twenty years, until my children moved away to college and into their adults lives, those little aqua Sputniks sailed across our dishes underneath the meatloaf and the peas, the fried chicken and the apple pie." Pat also says, "But I wanted the sky to stay inviolate, untouched. I wanted the moon to have no human footprint." And that's an interesting part of the story too. I've talked to people who are not enamored of human beings going into space. Some people are angry that we have satellites in the sky and are furious we have left "debris" on the moon. This should be part of the story too.
I'm taking an astronomy class and have made a commitment to look at the stars every night. There are three DVDs I highly recommend: Ron Howard's The Shadow of the Moon, is excellent, From the Earth to the Moon from HBO is well done, and Dr. Edgar Mitchell's, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 14, The View From Space, is eloquent.