Monday August 29, 2022
I sat watching the NASA feed on YouTube, waiting for Artemis I to launch. I listened to the techno speak. There was a leak in Engine #3. They couldn’t get it up to the right temperature (or maybe down?). They had to do something with the Flare Stack. Of course! I was becoming an expert once again. Okay, I had no idea, but it was thrilling.
I thought about the time we gathered in grade school and watched Alan Sheperd go into space. It was a dingy black and white TV. We cheered. He said it was a beautiful view. He was looking through a periscope. The optical lenses of which were provided by Dad’s company, Perkin-Elmer.
Dad laughingly told stories about the NASA engineers coming to PE asking for a periscope. “Why don’t you put in a window?” Oh no, they said, they had done the calculations and the capsule couldn’t withstand a window. The PE folks couldn’t talk them out of it so they built the periscope. The next flight, Grisham’s, had a window. By the third flight, Glenn, they had three windows. Eventually they had five. Dad would laugh and end his stories with “What did you want? They were NASA engineers!”
I marveled at the various shots they had of the launch pad and the rocket. Especially, the close up of the base of the rocket. What a huge machine! Sitting there, the only thing that informed me it wasn’t a still picture were the whiffs of smoking vapor emitted from various places. The pull back view showed three large three legged towers. Were the black boxes on the towers cameras? I thought about Uncle George and how he had designed and built the original camera to track the rockets as they left the launch pad. Perkin-Elmer shipped the camera down to Cape Canaveral. The NASA engineers took it apart to see how it worked. They couldn’t get it back together again. Uncle George had gone back to his home in Minnesota by the time they contacted him. Aunt Jean took the call. NASA wanted to fly George down and were willing to pay him $700 a day to put it back together. That was a lot of money. George was out in the garden and told Jean to tell them No. He had to get his tomatoes in. Once that message was relayed they never called back.
What a world we live in. think of all the progress we have made.