History: April 2021 Archives

The High Frontier: The Untold Story Of Gerard K. O'Neill: A Review

As the size of satellites shrinks and the ubiquity of the technology expands it is close to being possible to build a rocket in a garage and put something into space. OK, I am exaggerating. But my straw man talking point is a lot closer to reality today than it might have been 40 years ago.

Back in the late 1970s and 1980s the potential of space exploration had started to morph into the era of space utilization. Utilization meant different things to different people. Some wanted to make money. Full stop. Others wanted to settle the solar system. Most were somewhere in the middle with an eye on both extremes. But most people tended to think small since space efforts had, to date, involved putting small things in space, once in a while and at great expense to get them there.

Some of you may recall the world before Federal Express or the Internet. It cost a lot to move things across Earth. More to get things into space. What happens when the cost of putting things into space drops while the need to bring things to space from Earth drops as well? That was at the heart of what Gerald K. O'Neill thought about - what this documentary aptly focuses on.

Full Review

My STS-1 Story

Keith's note: I had an interesting job at STS-1 - I was Jerry Brown's advance man. I took a few days off from my job at Rockwell Downey where I stood inside of Discovery and Atlantis as they were being built to work for my old boss (I worked on his 1980 presidential campaign). The trip to the launch was insane. The area was still somewhat boarded up after the post-Apollo economic downturn and things were opening up for the shuttle era. So everyone was happy on the Space Coast.

At one point I: drove a large Chevy back and forth between the Mouse Trap and the old Holiday Inn (more than once) with Mercury and Gemini astronauts inside: tried to get Jerry to say hi to Christopher Reeve (he did, what a really nice guy he was); tried to keep Jerry away from Pat Boone (failed); set up a dinner with our group and (then) Rep. Bill Nelson - who then stood us up; and spent a lot of time talking to author James Michener about the new space book he was writing. The son of the President of Mexico, Nichelle Nichols, astronaut Rusty Schweickart, and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand were in our traveling entourage.

Before the launch I also spent a lot of time walking around with George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg (who joined our merry bunch) looking at IMAX cameras and bothering Tom Brokaw while a very patient Judy Resnik answered questions. We then walked down A1A to Al Neuharth's Punkin Center. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" premiered 15 June 1981. Let's just say I got a slight preview of coming attractions. I left them saying "keep doing what you are doing". They did.

After the launch at Al Neuharth's house I let Alan Shephard and Buzz Aldrin use my motel key to scratch their signatures on the viewfinder of the Hasselblad camera that our photographer Jamie Stoughton used - his father was JFK's photographer (he also took the B&W photos of me and Jerry at the launch). An hour or so after the launch a helicopter flew over the house and dropped bundles of Florida Today newspapers showing pictures of the launch we just saw. The entire event was surreal.

Oh and then there was the landing. At the landing I offered Nastassja Kinski a donut on the bus up to Edwards and she acted insulted that I'd offer her junk food. At the VIP area John Denver and I were trying to figure out how to properly use the Canon A-1 cameras we had both just bought. And then the shuttle dropped like a brick onto the runway. I was 25. My feet never touched through ground through out this mission.

That is my STS-1 story.


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This page is an archive of entries in the History category from April 2021.

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