the right stuff

@owillis posted this pic on twitter, saying it was like NASA advertising itself with a movie poster.  I’m not sure how or where he came across it – the mission was in May 2009.

Astronauts playing up their mission a la Reservoir Dogs.

For me, a nerdy little boy born in 1962, the 60’s and early 70’s wasn’t The Summer of Love, it was The Summer of Space!  I grew and became aware into it – jittery grainy black and white and sometimes washed-out glaring color tv images beamed from inside capsules.  And from the surface of the moon.  Grinning astronauts’ faces looming  tight in the uncomfortable camera shots.

I was too young to really know their names, or even comprehend the dangers involved.   I have no memory of the launchpad run through accident that took the lives of the three astronauts in the first attempted Apollo mission, in 1967.   I didn’t comprehend the real danger that happened to the Apollo 13 mission four years later.

Back then, news only came on the radio for 3 minutes an hour and on tv for an hour in the early evening, and except for the very rare Special Report breaking into programming that was it.   It was a huge deal when a couple of the broadcast networks introduced the news minute – literally a minute, and just a talking head –  between shows as 9:00 at night in the late 70’s; people complained it was an intrusion on their entertainment.

Anyway, I thought astronauts would be the new movie stars.  Or maybe something more akin to Olympic athletes, who have a profound moment of glory and only the most dynamic ones remain stars for a lifetime.

I have to confess I have never seen or read The Right Stuff.  I was too young to remember those days when our first lone astronauts were equal to movie stars for a summer, or a month.   Their “star factor” in a freshly-consumerist nation was a determinant in their selection.

It is worth noting, though, that all of the 12 men who have walked on the moon have later suffered from the same ailment – depression.   Many struggled with alcohol.  They say it is because after you have gone to the moon, you know nothing in your life will be that exciting and powerful, ever again.


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