Tag Archive: challenger


If you’ve never looked up into a dark clear night sky and wondered which, besides the moon, of those twinkling lights are planets and which are stars, or been curious about the cosmos, astronomy or manned human space travel, then you can stop reading right now – this book review is not for you.

On the other hand, if you look up into the night sky and wonder about our place in the universe, this book is a must-read for you and it might convince you to look up with a renewed understanding of our delicate, fragile place in the vastness of space!

I, and many of my “Baby Boomer” generation were fascinated and captivated by being included in every manned launch into space in the 1960s and ’70s. Being that there were only seven television channels of the day and three of them network (CBS, ABC and NBC), when there was a launch from Cape Canaveral (later to become Cape Kennedy and the Space Center), it was like a national address by The President (which we are sadly lacking these days also)!

Having recently finished another great book, who knows, maybe this will become another regular sub-category of this ole blog, until such time that I am reunited with my musical “children” and beyond. The name of this fantabulous tome is, “Endurance: A Year In Space, A Lifetime of Discovery” by Scott Kelly.

He weaves in and out from personal to NASA professional stories, with believably weird dreams which sometimes draw back the curtain for the next scenes of his space play, in a way that made me think, “this guy must have kept a diary or has one helluva memory!” Truth be told, when you read the final acknowledgements, you realize the collaboration that it took to put these thoughts together in a readable, informative and entertaining fashion.

Pages 304 – 305 offer Kelly’s most profound critique of our behavior on earth, visa v random and unnecessary gun shootings, one of which touched his sister-in-law, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona and my favorite quote from the book. I love his call to us earthlings, “We have got to do better.” Major words of advice from a perspective which deserves our respect; too bad many of our bad actors (politicians included) cannot be shot up into space as a sentence in “zero-g” for a while to gain some humility!

To the above paragraph’s end, Kelly describes how well he and the cosmonauts from Russia work together at 17,500 mph (or the closets kmph) without the drama below, along with those from Japan, Italy and Great Britian (the “U.K.”). I like how he mentions learning how to curse in Russian in a jovial way, between “CQ”s (Crew Quarters) visits, describing it as “much more complex!” While different protocols exist, they all co-exist accurately, performing over 400 experiments, with the most important thing in-mind: survival. You will learn what it is like to ascend at the top of “a big bomb” and return through our planet’s protective atmosphere.

For Kelly and his brother Mark, Identical twins who were raised in West Orange, New Jersey, and who could hardly focus enough to study their grade school lessons and pass to the next grades, instead, wanting to “jump off of things”, to suddenly develop the discipline to achieve U.S. Navy fighter jet pilot flight school because of (in Scott’s case) reading the 1980 book by Tom Wolfe, “The Right Stuff”, is truly remarkable.

“Endurance…” Is full of accurate, informative insights about the nuances of becoming and being an astronaut (or cosmonaut) and what it is like to live and work on the International Space Station (ISS). He often refers to his long-time female companion, Amiko, who awaits his return; she too works for NASA!

I remember, as a boy of maybe nine years, when the Gemini project was first announced by NASA and I glued together a model of the spacecraft. Even then, the prospect of human space flight and survival that Mr. Kelly writes about was the stuff of science fiction movies like “2001, The Space Odyssey”! Its a reminder that I have lived to see ‘the future’ scientifically, if not sociologically.

We have come a long way from the late astronaut, Ed White’s first spacewalk during the Gemini IV mission, and NASA doesn’t publicize astronaut’s names like they did when I first started following their space exploration programs during Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, it seems. I wonder why? Maybe because they are a little leery after the Challenger and Columbia disasters, of the worst-case scenarios? These are bound to happen and may again on our way to Mars; another of the cool things about Scott Kelly’s book – he is always making the case that this is why he is making himself a human Guinea pig!

Being a huge fan of H2O, I think his best personal take from being on the ISS for so long is, “Nothing feels as amazing as water/Rain is a miracle.” File that one under ‘Reality Check’/things we take for-granted!

This book which reads three-hundred-and-sixty-five pages, while the actual number of days that Scott Kelly spent on the ISS in “zero g” is 340, it is close enough for me to give him a “year” if you add the wonderful, color photo pages. A great a read as this can only be blessed with five-out-of-five heavenly space shuttles!

As always, I will answer your spaced-out comments.

I remember when Alan Shepard…
Alan_Shepard_-_GPN-2000-001005
…gave me goosebumps by just being launched up into the place just above earth’s atmosphere and coming back down to splash into the ocean!  I felt the same thrill upon watching the video of America’s newest foray into the “space race”, the lift-off of this massive and futuristic rocket-ship, “Orion” on the morn of December 4th 2014!
I recall school classes being delayed in order for us to watch the launches of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo! President Kennedy prioritized it. Then Nasa got a little careless during the Challenger era and had to take a “chill-pill” for a while. Their budget was cut by Presidents and Congress.
A space launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida was stop-the-presses or even a time-out during our school classes back in the 1960s and 70s! Now, with so much nonsense race-baiting going on here in “the future” I hardly knew one was going on until I went to check my AOL mail account.
It is great to see NASA back with a strong launch success! The on-board camera’s on the Orion vehicle give us a perspective ride that was never possible back in Shepard’s day! Looking back down upon the burnt cloud hole the rocket made upon its ascent and then seeing the blackness of the edge of outer space rekindled the true meaning and scary awesome fascination of space exploration beyond the gravity of our little planet as juxtaposed against the vast universe. That capsule splashdown in the Pacific ocean? It looked like the Apollo module!! Hmmm…
I need not say much more other than, “Come now along for the ride and listen to the cool and confident narration as we now test our space legs towards landing humans on Mars…”

A welcome distraction from the recent oft race-related human nonsense here on the ground, don’t you think? Please tell me your astronautical impressions in the comments section! BraVO, NASA!

Weapons

A brain is a battlefield of ideas

Keith Miller

Experience Life

Billb62's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Voices of Ukraine

Politics, anti-government rallies, other. Maidan.

tekArtist

Warning: Widespread Weirdness

genepanasenko

Just another WordPress.com site

A Celebration of Reading

It's All Fiction!

The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

the drunken cyclist

I have three passions: wine, cycling, travel, family, and math.

%d bloggers like this: