Friday, March 30, 2012

The Birthday Blog Post From Space

March, 1964 was a good month.  But I am perhaps a bit biased.

For anyone that has been following this blog, it is no secret that I have a serious love of anything related to space exploration.  It's my birthday and I am going to totally date myself by posting National Geographic images from the month I was born.  I can't think about my birthday without thinking of growing up during the space race.

The excitement of space travel and technology development was the flip side to growing up with the Vietnam War, the Cold War, duck and cover, and its close cousin Mutually Assured Destruction.  I grew up in an era where all of this was shiny and new.  Everything smelled like the future.  Well, except for cars before emission controls.

This has an interesting resemblance to the 1954 kids book version of the the space suit.

This is something of a hybrid between the Soviet and U.S. approach to landing.  Interesting concept, but probably just as well that was all the idea amounted to.

I am still amazed by rockets.

This was actually at the beginning of the article.  The article contains a detailed foldout of the various pieces of Apollo space craft.  The LEM was pretty well thought out five years before we actually got to the moon.
Coming home.  Really, the whole thing is just amazing.
It's funny that I still think of us getting to the moon in terms of "we" and "us".  Certainly, there is some national pride and I would not have wanted the Soviets to get there first.  But I tend to think of actually getting there as an accomplishment for our species.

As much appeal as I find in human space travel, I am still excited by our collective activities in space exploration.  Four years into the Great Recession, it is hard to comprehend the amount of money it would take to lift people and all the stuff they would require to Mars. From my perspective, we need some really good targets before we take the next steps.

We are doing some incredibly good science between our robotic and remote sensing servants. As of March 19, 2012, we have collectively cataloged 762 extrasolar planets including one water world.  Just this week, we learned that Mercury is a really strange place. NASA Messenger Findings

Although our family mourned the loss of the Mars rover Spirit, Opportunity is beginning its ninth year of its three month mission.  Its much larger cousin, Curiosity, is in route to Mars loaded with a comprehensive laboratory tools.  Curiosity won't be dependent on solar power.  We'll see what lessons have been learned on reliability in design.

Although the NASA shuttle program is no more, the International Space Station has been continuously inhabited for over 12 years and zips by overhead every 90 minutes or so.  The U.S. crew members are licensed amateur radio operators.  Beyond having access to high powered transmitters for remote control quadrotors, talking with the ISS crew is the coolest thing I can do with my new FCC Technician license.

Granted, my kids have a space cheerleader at home and friends bound to be future software, computer and robotics engineers.  Although human space flight is a big deal for them, they are equally excited about everything else going on in space research.  At some point we'll probably try out the crowd sourced SETI Live program.

For me, space is all about inspiration.  I'm thankful for the pioneering work that has gotten us this far.  I'm also excited for the future of space exploration.  When we decide to go, it will no doubt be to someplace incredibly interesting.  Maybe one of our emissaries will get to say hi to Spirit in person.

 More space stuff:
 Amazing kid space ephemera:
If you like toy LEMs, you will love these great examples:


  1. Ok, this is SO COOL! We call ourselves Apollo-NASA babies here; both of us remember being allowed to stay up to watch Armstrong, Aldrin, & Collins when they landed on the moon. I have a small space shuttle toy - came with astronauts but I seem to have lost those in one of the moves! (Still have my Spock figurine, though - the "Tiny Spock" model shown on The Big Bang Theory last night!)

    1. Thanks! The live lunar landing is a defining moment for a certain generation.

      We're catching up on BBT from the beginning. Since we don't actually watch TV, it may be awhile until we get to the Tiny Spock.

    2. Am thinking of getting the BBT DVDs for Beloved Spousal Unit's b-day. We've been watching the reruns nightly on TBS. So cool to have such witty (and geek-filled) writing. And, of course, Jim Parsons is an incredibly agile comic. Unfortunately, this most recent season has a bit too much "lower body functions" humor. Wish the writers would get on with other things. The Tiny Spock episode was amusing, but not as well-written as others. Clearly Nimoy is having a blast, though!

  2. Birthday greetings! I didn't realize that "House Full of Nerds" is your better half. ( :

    I haven't collected vintage space stuff (yet?) but I find them fascinating.

    1. Thanks for the birthday greetings. Yes, I got all three of the girls in our house blogging. It' fun and as a bonus we get a better idea of what's going through our kids' heads.

      I don't want to create another slippery slope for you, but space ephemera is pretty cool and readily available. In the meantime, check out the great stuff on the dreams of space blog linked above.

      One place I need to avoid is World's Fair memorabilia. Check out the Democracity designed by the industrial designer who redesigned the Royal QDL, Henry Dreyfuss.

  3. Space - the final frontier...
    birthday greetings!

  4. Happy Birthday!!!
    Very nice post. Those photos, covers and stamps bring back fond memories of my childhood from Alan Sheppard to the final moon flight and now the last shuttle.

    Too bad Nixon killed the space program and the rest of the politicians since have not had the sense and courage to revive it.

    Thanks for the great post.

    1. We just had to decide it was time to go, and we went. I'm a technology optimist and avid science fiction reader. I'm confident that we will go again.


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