Tuesday, October 27, 2009
REACHING FOR THE STARS, AGAIN - PROJECT MERCURY AS CHRONICLED ON FILM BY NASA - CIRCA 1958 THROUGH 1961
As we write this Tuesday,October 27th edition of KINESCOPE HD, the world's largest rocket sits on a pad at the Kennedy Space Center, under overcast,Florida skies. The night is violently punctuated with lightning.It is humid and the temperature is in the low 80's.It was a day of disappointment for the ARES X-1 launch team. These weather conditions prevented this morning's scheduled launch.
At this moment,The mammoth ARES X-1 , standing 328 feet high,is about eleven hours from lift-off on it's maiden voyage, a test flight to evaluate propulsion and recovery systems. The ARES X-1 is the first product of NASA's Constellation Program. The initiative is creating vehicles that will replace the aging, Space Shuttle fleet , which will be phased out next year.
These test flights will result in a new generation of spacecraft that will carry astronauts back to the Moon in the Orion 1 module. The ARES V, even bigger than the ARES X-1 and the SATURN V that carried people to the moon, is next in view for NASA designers and mission specialists.If this program receives the approval and funding of the Obama Administration and congress , for the first time in human history, ARES launch vehicles will take astronauts to explore Mars.
For baby boomers, the debate over space exploration was vitriolic,vocal,multi-faceted and unresolved.
People argued the benefits versus cost. They fought over investing in present priorities on earth as opposed to the promises of a future voyaging to the stars. There was disagreement as to whether space exploration was a challenge best confronted by a senescent, inquisitive man or a sophisticated, clinical machine.
American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts broke the bonds of Earth's gravity in the 1960's and 1970's, riding aloft on the most technologically advanced vehicles created to date. Like every voyage of discovery, knowledge was gained, lives were lost, curiosity was satisfied and human explorers returned to earth with more questions than were answered on a brief sojourn to a desolate rock in the firmament.
The desire to return to space burns ,in some, with the white hot,intensity of a booster rocket at launch. The fuel which propels it is human curiosity. The internal guidance system is the same sense of adventure that took ancient mariners across uncharted oceans and took two, brave astronauts ,in the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module, to the Sea of Tranquility.
In advance of tomorrow's, planned ARES X-1 launch, we've posted below, two films that chronicle America's first, halting, daring, dangerous steps into space.They provide a kaleidoscopic view of Project Mercury, the quest to put the first American in space Enjoy!!!!!
THE BIRTH OF PROJECT MERCURY
THE FLIGHT OF FREEDOM 7