Friday, July 20, 2012

Your Career at NASA - Circa 1966

In The Birthday Blog Post From Space, I shared some images from a 1964 National Geographic magazine featuring the United States' plan for getting to the moon.  President John F. Kennedy proposed to Congress in May of 1961 that we should establish a national goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s.

Remember in the movie Apollo 13 all of those guys in shirts and ties with their cigarettes?  Welcome to your career at NASA!
 With this audacious goal in mind, we did indeed deliver Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Sea of Tranquility on this day in 1969.  In eight short years, the United States committed its resources to the mission and creation of new technologies and infrastructure.  In the process, we gained a whole generation of engineers and scientists.  To celebrate Apollo 11 day, I'm sharing a great bit of ephemera I found at a local antique mall:  NASA:  A Guide to Careers in Aero-Space Technology" revised in July, 1966.

Our youngest daughter, the one who wants to go into engineering, was looking over my shoulder just now and commented on the first photo that it "looked like something promoting a job".  The expression on her face said "meh".   Marketing rockets and space travel is a whole lot easier than marketing math, science and engineering.

This is a page from "The Question and Answer Book of Space" copyright 1965 and 1970.  Herein witness the kind of kids' book I grew up with.

Still, with a shared vision, people can dream of working together to do something really great.

 To put this 1966 publication in perspective, our first one man capsule made a 15-minute trip above Earth's atmosphere on May 5, 1961.  The rocket with lift capacity to reach the Moon was still a concept in 1966.

Factoid of the day:  the 1961 Redstone missile delivered 78,000 pounds of thrust.  To escape Earth's gravity and make it to the Moon and back, the  first stage of the Saturn V generated 7,610,000 pounds of thrust.

Basically, it took a lot of this...

To get from the Mercury program in 1961...

At 5:14 AM on May 5, 1969, Lt. Commander Alan Shepard steps from a transport van and walks to a waiting Redstone missile.  This image is scanned from the book "LIFE Science Library; Man and Space" copyright 1964 and 1966.
To the Moon on July 20, 1969...

Image from "Album of Spaceflight" copyright 1983.
You can find more great Apollo 11 ephemera at one of my favorite blogs:

I grew up with the Apollo space program and have fond memories of watching the first lunar landing at the tender age of five and the final missions featuring the lunar buggy.  May your dreams of space be as pleasant.
P.S.  The House Full of Nerds celebrated Apollo 11 day by watching the Star Trek episode Assignment: Earth.  I'm pretty sure that Roberta Lincoln is using a computer controlled Royal Electress.  Please correct me if I missed the typewriter identification.


  1. why does the apollo capsule have a Mercedes hood ornament on it's top? :D

    1. Obviously, reflective gold foil is not decorative enough! Gotta have some bling... and what Bill said. Hey, I picked an illustration because the same old Buzz walking-on-the-moon photo gets old. Yeah, the illustration is just a little hero worship oriented.

  2. Very wonderful post. I watched every lift-off from Allen Sheppard to Apollo 17. It was a great time. The Shuttle program became routine and people seemed to loose the keen interest that was generated with Projects Mercury, Gemini & Apollo.

    @Ted, What looks like a hood ornament I believe is the artist's rendition of looking straight on into a parabolic reflector antenna. Making it look like a Mercedes ornament makes it really neat though.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I would have totally missed the anniversary had it not been for following a couple of space blogs and the mascot for Fortunately, I have accumulated a small pile of 60s and 70s space related books and ephemera to mine.

  3. I wonder why the scientist had to be younger? Excellent post!
    I always had a space fixation as a kid too.

    1. That is a good question. Perhaps the information in "The Question and Answer Book of Space" is correct; or perhaps not. It is a kid oriented book and not a primary reference source. I might have to look at some late Apollo program astronaut's bios and see if any of them actually fit the "scientist-astronaut" mold. I suspect we didn't get beyond fighter jocks and test pilots until well into the space shuttle program.

      The NASA document is somewhat silent on minimum and maximum age and doesn't cover the astronaut corps at all. The lowest pay grade for a "Research Pilot" was GS-9 and required basic education requirements plus current license with instrument rating and 900 hours of flight time with a minimum of 500 hours on jet aircraft with at 3,000 pounds of thrust per engine.

      I'm glad you enjoyed the post. After all these years, I still nerd out on space. Be sure to check out the blog I linked. He has a massive collection of space ephemera there and on his website.

  4. I will check that out.
    p.s. Teri Garr - Hubba hubba!


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