The Mercury Seven were the best we had. They flew before I was born, but I grew up listening to the NASA records of their radio conversations, knowing all their names, knowing the order in which they flew and what happened to each one on their flights. Almost before I could read, I knew that John Glenn saw glowing "fireflies" following his capsule, Gus Grissom's capsule sank, and "for one brief shining moment, Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen."
If you were a little boy in the early 70s, these guys were gods. Men my father talked about with awe. The last true heroes. 53 years after the Wright Brothers first placed man 15 feet above the sand in powered flight, Alan Shepherd and Yuri Gagarin went to space and back. 8 years later, we were on the moon.
In the 44 years since, my lifetime, we were supposed to follow on behind them. To the Moon, to Mars. Johnny Quest told me I'd vacation on space stations. My country would do great things because.... well, because it decided to do them. Instead, equally brave men and women flew a glorified delivery truck at great personal risk, and we sent a few robots to Mars.
I'm still waiting for my jetpack, and we can't even bring ourselves to feed the poor or stop slowly gassing the planet to death. Simple things are too hard. Great things get scrapped because they don't poll well. And somewhere, John Glenn sits alone and shakes his head. Godspeed, Scott Carpenter, and may we once again follow your example and do something grand, if only to prove we still can.
-DFL (I'm back)
Posted by DrFrankLives at 11:50 PM