Edited by Gerald Boerner
Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. launch of a chimp, Ham, into a suborbital flight. The completion of this and follow-up flights paved the way for human astronaunts to follow in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Projects. Our quest of space was triggered by the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik I in 1957. President Eisenhower took the control of the military and placed it into the hands of a new civilian agency. This agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was to end the contention among the different military services for the recognition for space success; NASA would provide a single, integrated approach to space.
When President Kennedy called for landing a man on the moon, the wisdom of Eisenhower’s creation of NASA became clear. The technology for accomplishing this task was NOT available in 1961. Our computers were relatively crude and slow; they lacked both the ease of use by non-engineers and the programming languages to pull off this task. We lacked any way of communicating efficiently with the space capsule for voice, data, and biomedical monitoring. We also needed to develop new materials and systems for the human environments within a space capsule. In short, we needed to accomplish, perhaps, a century’s worth of scientific advancement in less than a decade!
Fortunately, the U.S. has already “pulled off” a similar feat during World War II in the Manhattan Project. The nation’s resources had been mobilized once in this century, so we knew that we could do it again. We mobilized our scientists, engineers, and manufacturers to attack these various problems. The resources of our universities were also brought to bear; this did not the extreme secrecy needs that the development of the atomic bomb had. When all was said and done, I stood proud when Neil Armstrong took that first steo on the moon in 1969. I was just as proud when the lifted themselves off the moon’s surface, docked with the command vehicle, an returned to earth.
Some of the drama of the space chimps was shown in the movie, “Space Cowboys”. But, let’s now explore the real story of this adventure… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 4236 Words ]
Quotations Related to NASA:
“NASA should start thinking about this planet.”
— Wally Schirra
“For quite some time, women at NASA only had scientific backgrounds.”
— Sally Ride
“At the end of our NASA careers, no one had a place for us in the military.”
— Wally Schirra