Sunday, February 20, 2011

When I Was a Boy…


There was a day when I was young, when spaceships were so tiny that they were correctly termed capsules. You pretty much wore them, and the rockets that they flew on blew up as often as they worked to blast the brave idiot  that volunteered to sling his hide inside that barrel barely bigger than his own skinny frame. The idea of living and working in space was still science fiction. Going to space, venturing to look down on our Home World, that was the most risky business that could undertaken by a Human.

Now, this one Human, John Glenn plopped his rear end into the saddle of a little spaceship that sat atop a kind of rocket that had blown up the previous three times they tried to launch it. It did work for this particular ride, but once Glenn got past the top of our sky, things went horribly awry. As he was orbiting the Earth, he noticed these things that he called "jitter bugs" glowing outside the small porthole in his capsule. What he was seeing, but did not know, were bits of the glue that held on the heat shield that would keep him safe when he plunged back into the soup of our planet's atmosphere. If that heat shield came loose, John Glenn would be the first man to get turned to less than ash in outer space.

After much discussion, the guys on the ground, including Glenn's fellow pilots decided to tell him what the score was. The folks on the ground had a possible solution, but it might not work. Glenn had a choice. He could take another chance and maybe make it home, or he could end his life in the cold vacuum of space. The dude decided to take a chance. Back on Earth was his beloved Annie. So the steely eyed missile man took a chance on love. He made it back A-OK.