Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 24, 1959 - The Nixon/Khrushchev Kitchen Debate

I find the "Kitchen Debate" fascinating because the weighty issues of world peace and atomic destruction were discussed within the placid setting of an American kitchen.

The newsreel footage mentions that the event is being recorded on COLOR videotape, a futuristic technology for the time period, now a standard feature on cellphones and laptop computers.

I love the architecture of the building for the American Exposition. The dome reminds me of the 1964 World Fair and Disney's Tomorrowland.

Who would have thought that washing machines and blenders would provoke such a reaction?

Maybe those color schemes of the 1950s shocked Khrushchev's senses.

Wikipedia has more detail about the Kitchen Debate.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stars and planets to scale

You can't help but feel small after looking at this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

One small step...

Here is the famous TV broadcast of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the lunar surface.

While the moon landing of July 20, 1969 is considered to be a major success for NASA and space travel, there were some tense moments leading up to the landing on the moon.

Wired.com features a look back at the moon landing and fears that astronauts would become marooned.

Looking forward, NASA's home page features pictures and details on the Constellation Program, designed to return to the moon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The liftoff of Apollo 11

I found this video on YouTube of the liftoff of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969, the mission that put the first humans on the surface of the moon.

This must have been an amazing sight for those who saw the Saturn V rocket lift off into the skies over Cape Canaveral. I've heard that watching a rocket this big take off is something you see and feel. The engine sound is so loud that it shakes the ground like an earthquake. The fire and smoke plume from the engines are visible from miles away.

When I watch this video, I try to place myself in the moment as an wide-eyed kid watching science fiction become real, or an older person who might have remembered the first flight of the Wright Brothers.

The excitement of the launch started even before Apollo 11 fired up its engines. As the countdown clock marked the seconds before liftoff, viewers had to contemplate that this machine sitting on the pad contained three men who were going to the moon. After years of testing and designing space hardware, this was the day.

I wonder if another generation will ever see a sight like this again and feel the same awe. We are more jaded about the promises of science and space travel. Memories of Apollo missions are sometimes painful, reflecting on the past lofty dreams of space travel with a current humble reality.

But there are still engineers and dreamers who are inspired by the past, and they have plans for their own spacebound ambitions.

One day, I hope I get to see a trail of fire against a blue sky with my own eyes, while the ground rumbles beneath my feet.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The mars rovers need all the luck they can get.

Today is July the 7th of 2007, which is supposed to be the luckiest day ever. From wedding chapels to gambling tables, many hope the luck of a line of sevens in the date will rub off on them.

Some of that luck is needed on the planet Mars right now. Massive sandstorms are posing a threat to the Mars Rovers. The storm that is brewing right now is so big that it could freeze the rovers and end their already extended missions.

In the film Roving Mars, one NASA scientist said the day would come when the rovers would go to sleep in the Martian night and not wake up the next day. The cold would claim them as they powered down.

That day will come...but hopefully not too soon. The rovers still have a lot to explore.

Wish them luck.