Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Ground Control to Major Tom……

"I once caught an asteroid THIS BIG........"

We were travelling through Texas via Houston for one thing, and one thing only – Mission Control. Etched into my mind since I was a wide-eyed 11 year-old, it was a place I had wanted to see all my life, and we weren’t disappointed. Only days before our visit, the Space shuttle had taken off to deliver a ‘cupola’ 7-window viewing module to the International Space station, and we watched a live transmission with the astronauts as they prepared for a space-walk.

" My other car's a Soyuz....."

We visited Rocket Park, where the history of manned space flight came alive, Mercury rockets, and the legendary Saturn V, so close you could touch them.

Mission control itself, the scene of such triumphs, tragedies and dramas was simply awe-inspiring. Not for the technological marvels, but the lack of them. Computers as big as a room with as much memory as one digital image on this page, and man’s ingenuity took us to the moon and back, it is perhaps the single most underestimated achievement in the history of mankind. We have grown so blase about such things, that Shuttle launches barely make the news anymore. Until I really took the time at the Space centre to appreciate  it, I too was guilty of taking for granted the miracle that orbits our planet and has been home to an American continuously for 10 years.

Historic Mission Control - The Stars & Stripes you see in the background has been to the Moon and back.

The fallout from our apathy to our attempts to reach the stars is having a real effect on future plans for NASA. The Orion project, which aims to take man back to the moon once again, and beyond, is at a fairly advanced stage, but progress has stalled due to budgetary cuts. The Shuttle flies its last mission in September, and is thereafter retired, in line with the last Bush administrations decree. In future, all supplies sent up to the station will go unmanned, and the crews will leave and return via the Russian Soyuz. In an era where President Obama is fighting a huge budget deficit, who will pick up the gauntlet?  It is in the soul of man to explore, to discover, to reach out further than his predecessors, and for sure, that is what we must do if we are to survive into the coming centuries.  On our tour around the Johnson space centre, we stopped, unannounced at a quiet grove of trees, and words of George W. Bush rang out. I am no fan of him, and was glad to see the back of him as President of the U.S.A. , but his words, honouring those that gave their lives in the furtherance of JFK’s dream to reach beyond the confines of Planet Earth, were incredibly moving. 

Kev takes it easy by the Shuttle airlock before contemplating a particularly arduous Space-walk.

I am incredibly happy to have visited the Space Centre, and it does an important job in showing people just how important it is to keep reaching for the Stars. For Miki and I, the experience was humbling. As the last man to set foot on the Moon, Gene Cernan,  says in the introduction to our tour,

                               “This is no theme park, this is the real thing.”

Kev Moore


February 20, 2010 - Posted by | photography, politics, technology, travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Oh wow, you look like a bit of a Steelers fan there.

    Comment by sittingpugs | February 25, 2010

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