Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6-2-09: It Takes a Lot of Us to Go Boldly...

99 x 6 hours. That's 594 hours. 594 hours divided by 24 = 24.75

Wow…almost 25 whole days!!!

That's how many days the astronauts for the most recent Space Shuttle mission (STS-125) spent training in the neutral buoyancy tank at the Johnson Space Center just to help them prepare for the mission to repair and upgrade one of our National (if not global) treasures, The Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

Can you imagine? Spending almost a month underwater learning how to remove bolts, open doors, replace bolts, open and close doors, not to mention "walking" in space, moving from one area of the shuttle to the device and trying like mad not to make a mistake?!

Sometimes it's really hard to be over the age of 40. Not because I feel old. No – because it's very difficult to impart on the younger generations the sense of absolute wonder I still get with every single Space Shuttle Mission.

It's so very strange to think that now a majority of people on this planet don't remember life without space travel by our species (even as limited as it is.)

One of my favorite pieces of television was the series for HBO produced by Tom Hanks called From Earth to the Moon. It told the tales of those brave individuals who participated in the Apollo program – not just the astronauts mind you – but the people who built every single piece of equipment to get those men into space, to the moon, on the moon, able to do something while they were there and to come home safely.

So while I think about the STS-125 astronauts spending 25 days underwater learning how to turn bolts with bulky and protective gloves…I am never forgetful of the people who sewed those gloves, made the bolts, made the tools that remove and reset the bolts, the hinges for the doors, preparing the food the astronauts eat (sometimes looking like they get to have the most fun eating it too!), listening to them as they perform their work, be the analysts of the experiments they perform in space, flying the shuttle back to Florida…

…so many people and so much time and effort and frankly…passion is present just to help send small groups of humans into space to help us learn more about ourselves.

I find this whole concept utterly remarkable and truly awe-inspiring.

I know I'll never be able to make younger generations feel the same way I do about the space programs; the same way my grandparents will never get me to truly understand what life was like without instantaneous mass communication and the wonders its advancement have made in my own lifetime. (I mean seriously – radio alone was what you rushed home to listen to? Black & white television with only 3 channels? Heck – even I had 13 channels plus UHF channels when I was little. Sure I had to get off my ass and change the channel, but I would have done almost anything to see Kimba the White Lion and Speed Racer on PBS after Hobo Kelly was done on Channel 13….) wink.gif

But it does seem different somehow.

Is it that we're taking this amazing stuff called space flight for granted? Or is this just how we tend to deal with things as they progress? I mean it only took 100 years for us to really use powered flight to the point of monotonous routine…(with exception and deep seeded sadness for those who lost loved one in any tragic air accident, including the most recent Air France tragedy…)

That's it…isn't it? We don't notice the amazing stuff until something goes wrong?

That's sad, I think.

And that's why I'm blogging today…to say take just a little teeny, tiny moment of your day to say…

"Wow…that's pretty cool", then thank every person in every industry who works their asses off to make this species go boldly okay?


(Thanks to moonrangerlaura – whom I follow on Twitter and get the greatest info in 140 character spurts. She received the info about the training time from Michael Weiss' talk which will be archived here: read and learn!!! http://ses.gsfc.nasa.gov/ )

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