I remember well this day 50 years ago when John Glenn was the first to orbit the earth. The space programs along with everything about astronomy were fascinating subjects to me as a kid – my parents thought for sure that I was headed toward science as a career. I even ordered all the optics from a catalogue and built my own telescope – doing the math on the focal length of the reflecting mirror to cut the tube to the appropriate length, along with the location of the hole for the lens holder. It worked – it still does as I yet have the thing. But, high school science classes did not generally agree with me (nor did many other classes if the truth be told – I was not a very good student before my college years).
My primary memory of this day in 1962 was being rushed out of my 1st grade class and into the next room, the location of the only working television in the whole school. Every grade of students were there to watch the launch in fabulous black and white!
It is amazing now to think that 50 years later the space program is essentially shutting down. I understand the economics, but it is very sad. The space program was one of the few government programs that produced a lot of bang for the buck – with spin-off products that have positively impacted everyday life.