The Pondering AmericanPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

An average American that has some thoughts on politics, culture, and society with a conservative and Catholic twist.

Location: Louisiana, United States
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

America Needs To Appreciate Our Heros

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I often wonder if our Astronauts and all the people at NASA that put blood, sweat, and tears and even sacrifice their lives ever feel like they are treated like the early explorers. Columbus if you remember was in chains after a few Expeditions. After, El Doraldo, the Fountain of Youth, or rivers of Gold were not found there was was a huge sigh of "who cares" by many. In fact people forget, but many Crowns of Europe at time thought the whole Exploration of this area we live on was a big waste of time and money after a while. I was always fascinated that the early Royal Colonies wers such utter failures. All the folks back in France could say is "when are dividends going to roll in" ? Sounds familar huh? Well, we don't put our Astronauts in physical chains like Columbus ,but it seems perhaps we Americans have put them in chains of indifference at times.

Yesterday was glorious. On the Fourth of July, a symbol of everything that is great about our Country lifted up into the skies yesterday. My whole family took time out from eating to watch this great event. It was thrilling as and awe inspiring as ever. I don't know how the rest of the Country viewed it. I think here we appreciate it a tad more where I live , but still not nearly enough. A few years ago the Columbia Disaster literally rained down on our heads. A smallpiece of the shuttle landed just blocks from where I was living at the time. It just wasn't pieces of tile but remains of heros that were coming down in our communities. It was something this area of Texas and Louisiana will never forget. The whole area became a staging area for recovery, and average folks pitched in to find parts both human and man made. So I suppose we give it a glimpse more than many maybe. But even here I suspect like most Americans, we forget that like the early exploers these folks are participating in a grand enterprise. A enterprise that very well might save this planet.

There are a lot of unsung heros in NASA all doing their part. But I think the least I can do is try to highlight the Crew that is representing their efforts and our Future

You can read all about the crew and their life stories at this link. The interviews they have there are excellent and give a glimpse of how proud we should be. Here is some excerpts.

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Steve Lindsey is the Commander of this mission. He was born in Arcadia California but considers Temple City in that state to be his hometown. He was asked about of course losing his friends on Columbia. He said " It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. I was, for that particular flight, the lead family escort for the Columbia families, so I was there at the runway with them when it all happened, so it was extremely difficult to go through, and I hope I never have to do it again" When asked about the risk he said alot. Here is just a part"Well, the key, obviously, is to take the risk; the gain has to be worth the risk. And, for me, the gain is I believe in the human spaceflight program; I believe [in] what it’s achieved. If you could wake up in the morning and analyze everything you do from the time you get up in the morning till the time you go to bed at night, and even while you’re sleeping, and in each moment of the day you could identify something that you use or take advantage of, either technologically or otherwise, that came from the space program. So, there’s a lot of talk about spin-offs, and we talk about specific spin-offs, but you could literally trace your day, and you could identify something, each moment of the day, that came directly from the space program, and you can see it all over the place: telecommunications devices, a lot of the medical equipment that we use today, telemetry, you name it, even the beds they advertise now actually came out of the space program.

+ Read 2006 interview

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Mark Kelly is the pilot. He was raised in West Orange New Jersey. I also see that unlike many that went to the other Academys he went to the Merchant Marine Academy. Perhaps he is the first Merchant Marine Grad in space? : Kelly has 4.8 million miles under his belt thanks to the 12 days of STS-108. STS-121 is the second mission in the Return to Flight series, the second mission on Shuttle Discovery since Columbia in 2003. HE stated also on the risk:Well, it is a risky profession and you do think about that: Strapping into a rocket ship is something you don’t do lightly. You understand the risk. It’s a lot easier knowing what the risks are than if you just took somebody off the street and send them on a flight like this. But what makes it something that I’m willing to do and I’m prepared to do, is the fact that I think it’s very worthwhile. Anything that’s risky, you’re going to want to evaluate what the benefit is, and it’s not just the personal benefit to me—it’s what’s the benefit of our space program to our country and to the planet, and I think that’s, that’s pretty, pretty big. The benefit is enormous, so it’s justifiable for me to climb in the space shuttle Discovery whenever our launch date will be and take that risk .

+ Read profile + Read 2006 interview + View biography

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Michael Fossum as you can tell is an Aggie. He is the first Aggie to fly in space.(There has to be a ton of jokes right now being formulated right about this fact)He joined the Corp of Cadets there and later began his military career in the Air Force. He is one of the Mission Specialist. He was born in South Dakota nad grew up in McAllen, Texas. These guys and gals of course have lives outside Space. In just part of an interesting interview he stated "Oh, I’m a very active Scout leader now. My older boys have been in two different Boy Scout troops that I’ve helped with. My youngest son is in Cub Scouts today. I try to help out there, too. My daughter was in Girl Scouts, for a while. I love the Scouting program. I know that it changed my life in many significant ways and, and I like the opportunity now to help work with the kids, to help them learn and understand and help them grow in different ways. I really like the high adventure aspect of it. The last few summers, I’ve taken, taken groups up canoeing in the wilderness in Canada and backpacking in northern New Mexico. The guys give me a hard time, telling me I’m going to be missing next summer’s High Adventure activity because I’m working on another one for NASA.

+ Read 2006 interview + Flight menu (PDF 60 Kb)

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Lisa Nowak is a mission specialist and grew up in Rockville Maryland near DC. She went to the Naval Academy. She in her interview talked about the team aspect of NASA beyond the Astonaunts:Every single person is a part of the team, and I am impressed with that every day that I am at NASA, from the day that I first came for my interview and met the different people that were working. One example is I had somebody doing a Doppler exam of my heart, and this person was telling me about how she had done a similar exam with someone that was going to space soon. And I meet some people that are building hardware, and every single person you can see they’re beaming with how proud they are of the role they play. Every single one of them knows they’re important, which they are. Every piece is key to the whole effort, and that big team is what makes all of this happen. On talking about the Space Station she said:It’s a step. Exploration, just by the very nature of it, doesn’t stop; you want to continue to explore. We’ve explored the Earth, we’ve gone down under the ocean, and we’ve got in up in airplanes and now out to space. We’ve gone to the moon; we’re hoping to go back with our new vision of exploration. The space station is another method of exploring, but we’re also hoping to go to Mars and who knows where else and explore out there in the universe.

+ Read 2006 interview + Flight menu (PDF 57 Kb)

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Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson was Born in 1966 in Boston Massachusetts. She grew up in the small town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She went to Havard for Undergrad and later other schools for advanced studies. HEr interview as well as an earlier one is very interesting . On how she got to be where she is:Well, I studied engineering science at Harvard University. I went on to receive a master’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas in Austin. For my first job I worked at Martin Marietta, the former Martin Marietta, in the astronautics group, performing loads and dynamics analysis for the Titan IV launch vehicle. Then I worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on the Galileo spacecraft as part of the attitude and articulation control group. So that was all, for me, a natural progression from working on launch vehicles and robotic spacecraft to now flying on the shuttle. She likes all the others knew the Columbia Crew:I was very sad to learn that there perhaps was something we could have done to, to, prevent losing the Columbia crew. I was the lead Capcom for that mission and three of the crewmembers were also in my ASCAN class. We were all very close, we all worked very hard together, and it was a tough time. It was very sad.

+ Read 2006 interview + Flight menu (PDF 60 Kb)

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Mission Specialist Piers Sellers is one of two non Americans on the Crew. He was Born April 11, 1955 in Crowborough, Sussex, United Kingdom. This is not his first time in space, he was part of the Atlantis crew in 2002. He of course like all the rest have knowledge in numerous subjects. You can tell he has a sense of humor: . I was fortunate enough as a kid growing up in United Kingdom that I got involved in all these Royal Air Force cadet programs. They teach you to fly gliders when you’re very irresponsible, a 16-year-old—it’s a lot of fun—and then went on to do powered flying at 17, 18. And so, I was flying aeroplanes around at the government’s expense, and having a wonderful time, before anyone would let me drive their car. Of course he has so many degrees its ridiclous even tough he has a funny sense of humilty: There’s a saying that to be an astronaut you have to be something else first. I was a scientist first. I got drawn into science when I was pretty much a teenager at school. I had wonderful teachers. My two big loves were physics and biology, and I realized I had to do math to do physics well. The more I learnt the, the more interested I got. And so science became a passion for me which has lasted my whole life. And, beautifully the science and the aviation combined with space exploration. So I don’t know if I’m particularly qualified, but I’m certainly interested. His interview is very interesting like the rest. His heros were the early American explorers in space.

+ Read 2006 interview + Flight menu (PDF 61 Kb)

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Thomas Reiter is the other non American going up. However he shall not be returning. He shall be staying on the Space Station and shall return by either shuttle or a Russian rocket. HE was Born May 23, 1958, in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, Thomas is married and has two sons. He enjoys fencing, badminton, cooking and playing the guitar. He flew in the German Air Force as well. LIke the UK Astronaunt he is also an adopted American hero in my book even though from an foreign land. He also knew this is what he wanted to do from a young age:Yes, indeed. When I was a boy I was very closely following all the space activities. I well remember the first flights into Earth orbit, the Gemini missions, and when I was 11, I very well remember the first moment when Neil Armstrong put his feet on the moon. That was actually the point in time when I thought, hey, this would be a good profession. His interview is pretty interesting because he gives us a glimpse of the space station we are building up there. He has been to space before and will become the first resident of the space station that was not American or Russian.

+ Read 2006 interview + Flight menu (PDF 54 Kb)

I can't help but notice how quickly the world changes and not as so many people think for the Worse. Today , I saw my Grand dad who is of the World War II generation. Would he have thought when he was young and about to go war that in his lifetime he would see anyone in space? Would he had thought that when the world seemed heel bent on destroying itself and maybe him with it , that Two women, one of which is black, a British Guy, a German Guy and a much of Amerians would going up to meet some Russians in a joint effort to make the World a better place.? I think not. I wouldn't have.

Anyway, I just wanted to talk about these folks a tad. Here is a link to watch all the excitement. They will have more video and links to such things as NASA TV.


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8:58 PM  

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