Wally Schirra: A NASA Original

Posted by Michael Pinto on May 9, 2007 in Science |

Wally Schirra

Wally Schirra

There’s a fantastic photo essay on the life of astronaut Wally Schirra at nasa.gov:

Wally Schirra: 1923-2007

Shown on top is a very posed photo of Schirra from his early Mercury days, but I love the contrast of that photograph with the one below it which is of him in action on the ninth day of the Apollo 7 mission in 1968.

It makes me sad to look at these photos because they’re about as old as I am, and when they were taken the United States dared to invest in a real space program. As a child growing up in the shadow of that era (watching shows like Star Trek and Space:1999) I just assumed that we’d continue the effort, but alas during the 70s was the when things started to wind down. In the next few years we may return to the moon, but the ships that took us there in the 60s are now rusty artifacts sitting in museums.

As an adult I’ve come to realize that it’s too late for me to be an astronaut and that I’m too poor to be a space tourist, but damn it I’d like to see the next generation going up there to walk around places like Mars. I’d trade every great sci fi film from the last twenty five years if that could become reality. I also think that as the Apollo program was the silver lining to the strife of the 60s that an agressive space program might set our eyes upon the stars instead of war down here on Earth.

It’s a depressing day in America when three out of ten Republican candidates running for the office of President of the United States don’t believe in evolution. That’s not the kind of attitude that launched the Kitty Hawk or allowed a man to walk on the moon. It’s shocking for me to think that Dwight D. Eisenhower of Abilene, Kansas started NASA and now Kansas Senator Brownback is ready to join the flat earth club.

Yes a program like NASA costs a little bit of money (less that 1% of our Federal budget) but a lack of imagination and innovation with cost us much more. And by the way NASA is proof that a big government program can achieve results if you want it to.

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