Thursday, May 5, 2011

This is how it's done…

Dear Friends,

The guy in the picture below is a fellow named Ed White. One day in June of 1965, when I was just nine years old, he hauled his butt out of a perfectly fine space ship to take a "stroll" over the Home Planet. He was traveling at about 17,000 miles an hour, and all the while falling but not landing. That is the definition of being in orbit.

There were a few concerns about putting even a steely-eyed missile man in this situation. A person might reasonably be expected to puke up his lunch of freeze-dried goop in his helmet under, or above the planet that appeared to speed along below, or above, his feet. That would be bad for the steely-eyed missile man stuck inside a pressurized helmet.

There was also some concern about getting him back into that perfectly fine space ship. His protective suit was inflated. He had barely an inch of room to squeeze himself back into the craft's hatch… if he survived his little "walk-about" one-hundred and sixty miles above where his feet were designed to live. Oh, and if his buddy on the ship couldn't yank his corpse back into the space ship, they would both be former-astronauts. You can't land a space ship with one door open and a dead guy flopping around in the incinerating breeze of reentry.

Well, Ed got back home okay. His buddy, Jim McDivitt and he came down to earth, but White would die a few years later, on the Terra Firma. He was getting a new space ship ready, and it was to fly to the Moon. Things went horribly awry. Three courageous men perished due to a couple of errors in engineering a vehicle designed to take a Human to the heavens on top of a fire breathing monster that had the power of an atom bomb. Whoops!

Anyhow, this picture shows how we're going to deliver on the aspiration that pretty much any kid who has looked to the sky has likely felt. That would be most of us, wouldn't it?

Res Ipsa Loquitor,


Ad Astra, Edwin White II.