Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Final Frontier

Over at Wired, there's a great Q and A article about the space race of the 1950s and 60s.  Like a lot of 40-somethings, 40 years ago I took it for granted that by now we would all be traveling in space.  Those were exciting times - I only wish I could have experience the launch of a Saturn V- the one used for the Apollo missions.

I've heard many times how those Saturn V's shook the earth so violently on lift off.  I'd give almost anything to have been at one of those Cape Canaveral launches.

I still have a couple things I got during the space race, including this unbuilt Revell  model of a lunar module.  I think it was offered to us in grade school through one of those buy-a-book programs at the time.

Somewhere around here I think I have some space booklets that came with stamps you were supposed to moisten and paste on the correct page.

I don't actively collect space stuff, other than the lunchboxes I have...(BTW, I found the metal shelf behind a thrift store to be thrown out!  Score!!!)

But about a dozen years ago I happened to hit an estate sale here in the DC area and picked up a bunch of NASA photos, including some astronaut-autographed photos.  They were all part of a retired NASA Godard employee;s estate.

My favorite is this well-known photo of Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins from the Apollo 11 mission.

Here's the shot of them in a contamination-proof Airstream trailer talking with President Nixon after the mission, while on the Navy ship Hornet.  Personally I think they should have used a Shasta instead of an Airstream.

I have mixed feelings about collecting ephemera - photos and books and other printed things.  I enjoy looking at them, but they're not so easy to display and you have to be pretty careful with them.  Still, they're a great reminder of a great, audacious achievement.  And it's fun to scan this stuff and share it.

I still long for the excitement we had during the Apollo years.  Space seemed so close.  So, where in the heck are our space cars?  It's 2010 already!  When are we going to have space elevators, and travel the solar system?  C'mon, we're not getting any younger!


  1. Sweet!

    I just started collecting a few choice vintage space things for my office room.

    Your photos inspire me!

  2. Good morning, Uncle! After reading this post and 1950's Atomic Ranch Lady's today, I'm ready to add to my space stuff--all I have now is the complete set of Tom Swift books, but of course there's SO MUCH STUFF out there and one can never have too much stuff! Love those lunchboxes!!

  3. Christine...

    You can get a lot of very cool vintage space stuff on eBay for great prices... Should I have said that? lol...

  4. My dad affectionately remembers the space race. He has regaled me with a particular story about how once when he was in the Navy he was on a carrier that witnessed the recovery of one of the capsules they sent up. It was an unmanned mission, damned if I can remember which one! I'll have to ask him, he wont micd telling the story again ;-) When John Glenn returned to space in '98 and we watched the lift off on tv, my dad commented "I'd love to ride that bitch" ! That's a quote I'll never forget!

  5. I think I bought that exact Revell Lunar Capsule model kit. I'd have got it at some point in the early 80s, along with all my WWII planes and a Starship Enterprise or two! :)

  6. Interesting, I've never seen another one, but then I haven't been looking! That's the great thing about the web, you can remember the most obscure object or piece of info and with a few clicks reconnect and find a dozen of them to shove into your closet with all the other crap.