Living With Technology / Space history
In July 1969 Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I was a teenager visiting some relatives in Utah that summer. When the moon walk started, I remember my Aunt Avice taking all the kids outside, pointing to the moon and saying to us: “There are men up there walking on the moon.”
To me, that was the culmination of a decade of the space race to put a man on the moon. It was also marked in the movie “Toy Story,” where the space toy Buzz Lightyear became the favorite toy over the cowboy Woody. Westerns had been a staple of American stories for decades, but space had become where the action was.
Neil Armstrong walking on the moon marked a decade of space exploration that put the world — and we as Americans — into space.
The technology that powered the space exploration was truly primitive by today’s standards.
Computers filled rooms and had a fraction of the computing horsepower that we carry in our smartphones today.
I recall in the movie “Apollo 13,” when the ground crew had to calculate a new trajectory for the damaged space ship. Rather than looking to their computers, they pulled out their slide rules. Many people don’t even know what a slide rule is, but that was the engineer’s “go to” calculation tool.
When I heard there will be an exhibit called “Makers in Space” at the upcoming Maker Faire Rome (https://2018.makerfairerome.eu/en/) Oct. 12 to 14, I was very interested.
Some very influential space pioneers will be represented, including Wernher Von Braun, Robert Goddard, their Russians counterparts and early Italian experimenters like Fenoglio, Gussalli and Cicogna.
What I’m looking forward to seeing are some of the artifacts, including satellites, a 1:10 scale model of a Saturn V rocket, an Apollo and Soyuz simulator, parts of the Apollo lunar module and more.
Hearing stories from the scientists from that era, as well as from current space explorers, will be a fascinating adventure.
After a long hiatus of no substantive space exploration, I was recently pleased to hear that countries are planning manned trips to both Mars and the moon. Most recently, our head of NASA indicated the desire to put a manned colony on the moon.
I applaud not only keeping the history alive, but creating a future of manned spaceflight that will pay dividends not only in technology, but inspiring creativity and exploring the universe.
I hope that one day, I will be able to take my children outside, point to Mars or the moon and tell them there are people walking on that planet. When that time comes, I may also be able to tell them that they may be able to walk there during their lifetimes.
I very much look forward to that day.
Mark Mathias is a 35- plus-year information technology executive and a resident of Westport. He can be contacted at livingwithtechnology