Archive | December, 2016

Happy 48th anniversary Apollo 8

22 Dec

It was 48 years ago today, Dec 21, that the Kennedy Space Center in Florida roared to life with the liftoff of the Apollo 8 craft. It was shortly after 7:00 am EST (4:00 am PST) that the whole nation was treated to the sight of three brave astronauts as they waited in the Apollo 8 command module, that sat on top of a 110 foot tall Saturn V rocket, as we listened to the countdown to launch. The viewers all held their breath as they heard 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…liftoff. Then there was a cheer as the engines came to life, at 7:51 am EST (4:51 am PST), and carried the rocket into space. For the next three days viewers eagerly watched as these brave men journeyed to the moon where they would go into a lunar orbit.

On Dec 24 (Christmas Eve), 1968 they reach their objective when they took up a lunar orbit. For the next 20 hours they would make 10 orbits of the Moon. Approximately million television viewers watched as we were able to see the lunar surface for the first time and what the Earth looked like as viewed from space. On that evening we were also treated to the voices of our astronauts as they read the first 10 verses of the book of Genesis from the Bible. The three astronauts took turns reading one verse for each orbit. Once that of the mission was over they started the 3 day journey back to Earth.

For the next three days we held our breath and watched as these men rocketed back to Earth. On Dec 27, 1968 at 10:51 am EST (7:51am PST) we were able to let that breath out as the Apollo 8 command module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. From there the command module would be recovered by the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. The astronauts would have to wait 43 minutes before frogmen from the USS Yorktown would reach the module to bring them the crew and capsule on board. The three men were then welcomed back to Earth and taken back to dry land. That year Colonel Frank Borman, Major William A Anders, and Captain James A Lovell were honored as Time “Men of the Year”.

Apollo 8 was the second time that Frank Borman and James Lovell were partnered on a space mission. The two were also paired for the Gemini 7 mission were they would perform the first orbital rendezvous. In that mission they would link with the Gemini 7 craft that was launched into Earth’s orbit 14 days earlier. After both missions James A Lovell would go on to command the infamous Apollo 13 mission that was never able to fulfill its mission of landing on the moon. Frank Borman retired from NASA after the Apollo 8 mission. William A Anders would be named as part of the back-up crew for Apollo 11 but never go on another mission.

Today we lost one of the great ones

8 Dec

Today; December 8, 2016; is a day of remembrance as we reflect back on the life of one of the truly great Americans; former Marine, Astronaut, and United States Senator John Glenn. Mr. Glenn passed away after battling an undisclosed illness that had hospitalized him twice in the last month. He had honorably served his country for almost 6 decades out of his 95 years of life.

Mr. Glenn began our country in 1942 when, as my Americans, heard the call to service after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even though he had enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp it was the United States Navy that took him for flight training. Near the end of his flight training he transferred to the United States Marines where, in 1943, he was assigned to the VMF-353 squadron where he flew transport. Being a man of action he transferred to the VMF-155 squadron where he flew 59 combat mission in the south Pacific. After World War II his service continued fling patrol mission in the Pacific and then as a flight instructor. In the Korean war Mr. Glenn service two term of duty where he flew 95 combat mission.

After his service in two wars Mr. Glenn became a test pilot taking new military jets to their breaking-point. On July 16, 1957 he earned his 5th distinguished fling cross when he made the first supersonic transcontinental flight. At the time of the flight he set a record time of 3 hours and 23 minutes from California to New York.

In 1958 Mr. Glenn began the third phase of his career when NASA (National Aeronautic and Space Agency) put out the call for astronauts. He applied for the new agency along with 507 other military test pilots. Early the following year he found out that he had made the final cut and was introduced to the rest of the country as one of the “Mercury Seven” astronauts. On February 20, 1962 he became the third American in space and the first to orbit the Earth in the Friendship 7 capsule. Two years after that historic flight Mr. Glenn announced his retirement from NASA to start a career in politics. The following year he also retired from the United States Marines with the rank of Colonel.

After a few setbacks Mr. Glenn started his political career in 1974 when he won his first term as an United States Senator for the state of Ohio. In 1984, during his second term as Senator, he made an unsuccessful run for the Presidency. He then returned to the floor of the Senate where he won two more terms before NASA came calling once again. In 1998 he became the first United States Senator to go into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery. He left politics when his term expired in January of 1999.