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Cassini (WR)

Can see Titan. Read about it here What's your most memorable Space event? Neil stepping on the moon? ? Columbia?



First, Challenger - 8th grade. When I got home, I spent the entire evening watching Dan Rather point at a model of the Shuttle.

Then the rebirth of the Shuttle program with the launch of Discovery (watched live in Mrs. Hewitt's history class).

And then the Columbia tragedy.

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion .... C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate ... er, wait, that wasn't me.

Challenger then. I've seen some pretty cool Lunar eclipses and meteor showers too. Northern lights as well, though I'm not sure if that really qualifies as a space event, perse.

Oh, and the first clear Hubble pictures. That was really something.

Apollo 8, Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968.

I was 5 and a half.

My favorite grandparents came to my parents home for Christmas. We had all eaten a delicious roast beef dinner, with candlelight and the good China and we kids sat on the squeaky springed, samsonite spare chairs.

The adults seemed to be abuzz about some event not related to Christmas - the men going to the moon.
I remember father urgently calling us children down to the den to see the Apollo 8 broadcast.

I sat crosslegged in front of the fishbowl RCA monitor, amazed at the animated new graphics of "space" and the mesmerizing tones of Walter Cronkite.

The room was dark and the astronauts were talking!

And they showed pictures of the Earth and Moon seen from Apollo 8!

The moon! And the Earth hung in the sky like a moon!

They started reading. It was like poetry.

William Anders:

"For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you".

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness."

Jim Lovell:

"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."

Frank Borman:

"And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good."

Borman then added, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."

I've never witnessed anything that made a bigger impression on me.

sarahW, very cool.

Mine would have to be Apollo 11. I was almost 10. My dad was working for Werner von Braun's company in Huntsville AL (Brown Engineering. von Braun insisted on the Americanized pronunciation and spelling. I don't remember it, but my dad took me to his home when I was around 5).

Dad had worked for subcontractors in the program since I was 2. He was so proud. The past year had been really tough on him (he explained to me much later, when I was in high school) because he was part of the team of investigating engineers that had to figure out what went wrong with the Apollo 1 test that killed Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.

I remember sitting in the living room watching the live broadcast. We were all crowded around the set (our first color TV) watching a black and white signal. You could see the leg of the LEM, and some shadows, and then all of a sudden this big white shape moving down...and Armstrong's voice saying "one giant leap for mankind".

My dad hugged me very tightly then. He looked like he wanted to say something, but he didn't. I really didn't know why at the time, but I do now.

Just to clarify, it wasn't some sort of childish religious epiphany. I don't know if I'd ever heard the beginning text of Genesis before, and did not put their words in a "sunday school" context.
It was seeing the earth, hanging in the sky all alone like the moon (which merely 3 years ago I thought might be a large nickel suspended in the night sky), the moon rolling below - We were on this little round spaceship.

And the earth was where we all were. All the important people in my life were right there in the room, all this importance was on that cloud and ocean covered moon - we were all tiny dots on the surface.

And America rocked, baby. At five and a half, I justtook for granted that life as an American would always be like this. This is what Americans were...upwards and onwards, always.

Dave in Texas

"he was part of the team of investigating engineers that had to figure out what went wrong with the Apollo 1 test that killed Ed White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee."

Wow. Your dad was part of that!!

You know I remember it.. how scary it was when the special report announced broke into regular programming... I don't remember what the announcer said, beyond snippets like "apollo 1" and "fire" said, but I remember the distressing tone and the impression they had all burned up which was very nasty in a little kids imagination. Frightening to me at the time - I imagined them all withered man-shape black lumps of charcoal. And of course my mother was very upset by the report, and if mommy is very upset, that has an impression on a kid, burns a memory in.

That accident was probably necessary to get us to the moon before the end of the decade though...your Dad's work was instrumental in getting a craft space-worthy enough to make the trip.

I like your memory of the moon landing! It must have been an especially proud moment, considering your dad's involvment.

Have you ever read accounts of Armstrong manually flying the lander, and almost using up the alloted fuel?

I thought the fuel mission abort countdown was a countdown to a regular landing, and was quite impressed by how nearly perfect it was.

The space program, for me anyway, has always been more about the possibilities than about what they actually accomplished---and this probably sounds pretty darn wierd. This isn't to say they didn't accomplish a great deal. They did, but by the time I was born they'd already been to the moon a few times and NASA didn't really do much about manned flight during my first ten years on this planet. My early ideas about space were formulated by pictures probes had sent back: potential but not a great deal of follow-through.

The potential merged with the accomplishments with the advent of the Space Shuttle. I remember being home from school the day Columbia launched for the first time and I remember how excited my very non-scientific Mom was that they'd figured out a way to get into space and back without having to build a new ship every time. I found out that day that she had really loved watching the moon landings, but that she thought our way of getting there and back, while a huge achievement in her book, was also inefficient and wasteful. Mom never graduated from high school, so it pleased her that her ideas jibed with NASA's.

For me the best moment of the space shuttle was when I actually got to see it. I grew up in Omaha. SAC--Strategic Air Command---was headquartered in Bellevue, which is about a five minute drive south of downtown Omaha. It was a regular thing to see just about any type of military aircraft fly over our house. And while every kid in town knew that if there were ever a nuclear war, we'd be the second to go because the Russians would have to take out SAC, we also got one really good thing to balance out the bad: one time before they were able to have the shuttle land in Florida, they'd have to fly it back from Calfornia and it landed at SAC for a refuel. It was piggybacking a modified 747 and they circled a few times after takeoff so everyone in town could get a peek---they'd grounded all the other airplanes, both commercial and military. It flew directly over our house and we all waved, even though we knew the pilots on the 747 probably couldn't see us. To see that distintive black nose peeking over the massive plane that was ferrying it was thrilling. It raised a lot of questions for us: if the shuttle could fly into outer space, why couldn't it fly back to florida? Wow, it's kinda small in comparison to the plane that's carrying it. But just the fact that it had us thinking about such things was good. My curiosity had been piqued. It was potential and accomplishment---all wrapped up in a quick ground level view of the Shuttle.

"...one small step for man..."
I was nine. Remember it all.
Coolest. Day. Ever.

I was watching the Challenger launch live on TV. I don't think I'll ever forget that.

I also spent about two hours watching a live feed of one the space-walks to repair the Hubble. It was amazing that we sent a shuttle up and hooked it up to Hubble and that these two guys were out there in space suits working on it, and I could sit in my living room and watch it happen.

The too-long delayed return to space a few years after Challenger exploded.

I will cheat and give three events. It is hard to say which is most memorable. First was the reading from Genesis from the moon. The very fact that it was coming from a spacecraft orbiting THE MOON made a huge impression on me. Second was staying up late to watch Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon. I will never forget those grainy pictures. Finally, an unmanned mission, but one of the most remarkable scientific achievements of the past 25 years; I was living in Pasadena, California when a Voyager spacecraft made its last planetary encounter, the encounter with Neptune. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where the Voyager satellites were designed, is in Pasadena, and pictures from the Voyager were beamed to an auditorium at Caltech, which is were I worked at the time as a post-doctoral fellow. There were people from JPL talking about the mission. They were VERY happy! And they had every right to be happy. This extrordinarily difficult mission, which took something like 20 years from beginning to end, had succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Much of our knowledge of the outer planets comes from that mission. It was also moving to see people talk about the end of a project with which they had been occupied for much of their adult life, more so because it was so remarkably successful.

I have two. The first was seeing Neil Armstrong step out on the surface of the moon. Not only was it wonderful for what it was (going to another world!), my Dad actually let us stay up late to see it.

The second was when I was able to visit Kennedy Space Center and see Columbia being launched for mission STS-80. I just can't find the words to describe how it felt to see it launched at 3am. The ground trembled, the noise drowned out everything else, and the whole sky turned orange when the boosters lit.

I have two shuttle related:

Like Kathy, I got to see the shuttle piggybacked on a 747 on it's way from California to Florida. On this trip, it was landing in Austin and spending the night. It was all over the news, so I talked to my Dad and he agreed that seeing the shuttle was a bigger event than my going to morning classes- so he wrote me a note to get out of class. My best friend and I drove out to Bergstrom AFB early in the morning (along with a few hundred other people). Seeing the shuttle/747 sitting on the runway and then watching it take off, remains one of my best memories ever.

On rare occasions, the shuttle would make night or early morning landings. If the timing, landing track, and sky is just right... you can see it from Austin as it comes in to land. It is completely awe inspiring. A bright orange streak that moves across the sky from the west to east horizon. More than 30 seconds- less than a minute. Three times I've seen it, and I hope to do so again.