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Author Topic:   Who encouraged your interest in space?

Posts: 441
From: San Jose, California, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-05-2003 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikepf   Click Here to Email mikepf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like many 12-ish year old boys at the time, I fanatically followed the Apollo missions, especially the first moon landing. Unlike all my other friends at the time, I didn't lose my enthusiasm after Apollo 11 and maintain it to this day.

Part of the reason for this was the encouragement given me by my Aunt Rosemary who faithfully provided me with a steady stream of news clippings of space articles well into the first shuttle missions. Many of these I have preserved in a scrapbook with a 12 year old's total disregard for archival preservation. These are my first and still precious pieces of space memorabilia.

I just learned that this great lady has passed away, and considering the happy part of my life that is my space hobby, I thought I would thank her here.

So who do you say thanks to for encouraging you to become a space nut?


Posts: 349
From: Liverpool UK
Registered: Sep 2002

posted 12-05-2003 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andrewcarson   Click Here to Email andrewcarson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always followed all the Apollo and indeed all the other space missions with passion.

I attribute that to my late mother, and father. They managed to wake me to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

The first moonwalk took place at about 4/5 a.m. in the UK, so as a young child I was grateful to them for waking me to see man first steps on another heavenly body.

My interest has always stayed with me, and meeting Neil Armstrong in Dublin about two week ago..just brought it back to me.

I'm glad you have maintained your interest and passion, and what great days they were. You are privileged as I am to have lived when we took those first steps.


Posts: 1512
From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 12-05-2003 06:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First of all, my mom and dad, who let me persuade them that I was "sick" and let me stay home from school every time there was a launch or moonwalk. Plus they managed to keep me in telescopes and science kits on a limited budget.

Secondly to my second grade teacher - Miss Murphy at Adams School in Wichita. She rounded up space articles out of the upper grades' Weekly Readers and let me take her "NASA Facts" brochures home to read!

Thirdly to Gordo Cooper. I caught the space bug right before his Mercury flight when a picture came out in our paper of he and his family around his Faith 7 capsule. I found it interesting, cut it out, and was hooked on space since then.


Posts: 225
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: May 2003

posted 12-05-2003 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Carrie   Click Here to Email Carrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to thank TV shows like 3-2-1-Contact that I watched in the 80's that I remember had segments about astronauts, and the teachers in school who sat us in front of the TV for every Shuttle launch, (or my parents if it was a weekend launch)! I also have to thank my parents for taking me to KSC as a kid, as a consolation for every Shuttle launch that was scheduled during our family vacations to Florida being scrubbed! My grandmother, also, for describing them when they DID launch - she could see quite a bit from the beach near her house, an hour north of the Cape on the space coast.

I'm glad your memories of your aunt will live on with your space enthusiasm; I'm glad my memories of my father and grandmother are associated with mine.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 42981
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-05-2003 07:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two weeks ago, my grandfather, the inspiration for my interest in space passed away.

Had he not been Jewish, he would have become an astronomer — a choice that was not available to him while he was being schooled. Still, he ground his own telescope mirrors in his mother's kitchen and carried that passion for astronomy throughout his entire life. As a child, polio claimed his sight in one eye, which later stood in the way of his desire to be a pilot during WWII, so instead he taught pilots to fly using Link trainers.

He accompanied me on frequent trips to the Hayden Planetarium in New York, gifted me with my first telescope, arranged with my grandmother to take me to the National Air and Space Museum for the first time, and enrolled the two of us in a private colloquium at Cornell with the late Carl Sagan.

He always believed that I would make it to space someday and I regret that I will never be able to share with him that joy when I do -- but I will forever be grateful for the legacy he passed on to me.

New Member

Posts: 5
From: Morrisonville, New York USA
Registered: Apr 2009

posted 12-05-2003 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard   Click Here to Email Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess it was just growing up in Huntsville, AL. I'm too young to remember Apollo, but can remember Skylab. Unfortunately, like most people in Huntsville, I took my experiences for granted until recently. Astronauts and German scientists (including von Braun) were a common occurence.


Posts: 916
From: Fort Mill, SC, USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-05-2003 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bruce   Click Here to Email bruce     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess this has to be one of the "closest to heart" posts ever on cS. Mike and Robert's posts certainly moistened these eyes pretty good. And Andrew, from the same town as my dear friend John (whose 64th birthday would have been this coming Monday, Dec. 8), what lovely parents to have helped you witness history!

My magnet to space was my uncle Milton. Milton worked for various NASA contractors in the 1960's, including Martin-Marrietta as an engineering rep at the Cape (Mercury & Gemini systems engineering) and Grumman Aircraft Corporation in Beth Page, New York where he worked with Tom Kelly's team "pushing out the drawings"). Mr. Kelly wrote a very long, sincere inscription about my uncle in my copy of his book "Moon Lander" shortly before he died. I was trying to tell someone about it recently and got all choked up.

My uncle once explained obital mechanics and rendezvous concepts to me using a salt and pepper shaker. I was only about 10 years old at the time but it made perfect sense. He even arranged a tour in a McDonnell helicopter of the Cape Kennedy launch facility in December 1965. I remembering flying very, very close to (I believe) the Gemini 6 stack while it was on the pad!

I was with my uncle in Sepulveda, California on July 20, 1969 (he was working on the L-1011 with Lockheed at the time) as we watched Neil Armstrong take those first steps on the moon. I'd never seen him cry in my whole life, but he did that night.

During those years, I received many large brown envelopes packed with NASA 8 X 10 photos along with various NASA booklets and sometimes post cards. He had some great stories about working with some of the early astronauts, like Al Shepard's "icy cone of silence" when he was being aloof or Gus Grissom taking a piece of chalk and drawing exactly where he thought the window should be on the Mercury spacecraft (poor, startled engineers!), and also trying to stay out of the way of those speeding Corvettes the astronauts drove all around the Cape!

I certainly treasure the time I had with him.


Posts: 3307
From: Houston, TX
Registered: May 2001

posted 12-05-2003 10:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I received a call last night from my "autograph mentor", Don Noble. He was calling to thank me and Giang for coming to (his wife) Janie's funeral in Rowlett the week before. No one could ask for a better friend than Don. Don's one of the best autograph dealers out there and and his advice and friendship has been a blessing.

Keith Barber

Posts: 326
From: Warwickshire
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 12-06-2003 05:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Keith Barber   Click Here to Email Keith Barber     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My Dad helped me, we lived on a farm and he got me my first telescope,he even had a stand made so I was elevated high enough above the surrounding countryside. Nightsky was stunning.My Dad ( George Barber) died on September 9th 2003,it was quite sudden and has left me deeply saddened- miss him more than I ever thought.


Posts: 2176
From: West Jordan, Utah USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 12-06-2003 10:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First off, it was my mom that got me started and continues to encourage me. She bought me my first telescope, and paid airfare for me to go to Houston and visit Dr. Don Lind and family. Then, after I got married, my wife and sons encouraged me, and continue to do so.


Posts: 3118
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 12-06-2003 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Both of my parents encouraged my interest in the exploration of space.

My mother pointed out the passage of Sputnik 2 across the night sky when I was (barely) 3 years old.

My father helped me cut photographs and articles out of the newspapers when Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard went into space. (I still have the cuttings).

I trusted my father to wake me up in the early hours of Monday 21st July, 1969 to watch a certain live TV broadcast, and he didn't let me down, even though we had all just arrived back home from our summer holidays and were all very tired.

My father died at the age of 49, a few weeks after Apollo 14 returned safely to Earth, and I'm conscious of the fact that if I'm sitting down to Christmas dinner this year, I will have outlived my father.


Posts: 2331
From: Sturgeon Bay, WI
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 12-07-2003 02:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was about 1.5 years old when Neil stepped on the moon. But I DID watch it! My parents were on a ski weekend and they dumped me at my grandparents house and told them "make sure Tom watches the landing!".

I did see it, but I sure don't remember it. I do remember some of the later landings when I was a little older. Whenver my mom bought me a new coat, shoes or boots I always refuse to wear them.

She then came up with the bright idea of calling the new clothing "moon boots or moon coat" I would then wear anything as long as she put the word "Moon" in front of it! (I was an odd kid.)

My interest in that stuff never quit since then. I have several bookshelves full of books all on the moon landings, a wall full of autographs, and models hanging from my ceilings.

So I guess I have to put the blame on my mother for making me wear the Moon Boots!


Posts: 577
From: Ohio
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 12-07-2003 04:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RMH   Click Here to Email RMH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll have to blame my mom as well. As a kid she gave me some artifacts that she had from the early days and I built my interest from there. She also drove me down to Alabama to attend space camp and, as I look back now, it was a very special thing for her to do for me. She would also take me to see different astronauts and space related things that came to the area and now I take her to the different events.


Posts: 3218
From: MA, USA
Registered: Sep 2002

posted 12-07-2003 07:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project actually encouraged me. I always like the space program when I was a kid but I really got into that mission which led to the Shuttle. I may be one of only a handful of people who really enjoyed following the shuttle and even the ISS.

John K. Rochester

Posts: 1292
From: Rochester, NY, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-07-2003 09:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have had a few inspirations as well...

My sixth grade science teacher Mr. Moscato, who used to allow me to give presentations to the class on every mission instead of himself doing it because he knew of my intense interest.

My brother, who gave me the Revell Gemini model for my graduation for grammar school in 1967 (and, yes!! I still have it to this day on a prominent shelf in my space room) and he, by the way today is the VP of design for Veridian and worked closely with Dr. Joe Allen and now Guion Bluford.

And lastly to my Mom who used to let me "be sick" during all the Gemini and Apollo missions to stay home and tape all the TV coverage on my little reel to reel tape recorder. And who (because she was a large woman) used to walk by while I was taping and pass a little "swamp gas" as it were... laugh, and say "LIFTOFF!!" to make sure it made it to the tape. It really bothered me then, but I would give my right arm to have those tapes back today.

And lastly, to Robert Pearlman, whose terrific website has allowed me to not only keep up with, but to extend my passion for manned space collecting as no other site ever has... to you all, thank you.


Posts: 181
From: Richmond, IN USA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 12-07-2003 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for uzzi69   Click Here to Email uzzi69     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't really put a finger on just one person that inspired my interest in spaceflight. I was probably influenced more by the early black and white sci-fi shows of the 50's and 60's.

The one person I do remember most of all during the United States first space efforts wasn't a scientist or astronaut, it was newscaster Walter Cronkite. His interest in our manned missions also fueled my own insationable desire to watch all the televised space flights I could at an early age.

Thanks Walter for all your years of great coverage and informative newscasting!!!

irish guy

Posts: 287
From: Kerry Ireland
Registered: Dec 2001

posted 12-07-2003 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for irish guy   Click Here to Email irish guy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me it was two outstanding newscasters, one Irish the other American.

Leo Enright lead me through the early flights of the space shuttle his enthusiasm and professionalism came through in every single report. Beginning in late 1983, I discovered VOA and what a goldmine that was.

I remember the VOA's "Morning Program" interviews, live launches, landings, previews of upcoming missions all glued together by that great wordsmith Alan Silverman.

They were my Walter Cronkites. I had the opportunity to meet Leo last year, but would dearly love to know what happened to Alan.

As for astronauts, it would have to be the "antics" on STS-5 that humanized astronauts for me. STS-1 and 2 did not speak at all, STS-3 a little, STS-4 nothing, then STS-5 was like a breath of fresh air, especially Joe Allen.

It was great reading your replies from around the world, thank you Robert for your great site.


Posts: 48
From: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 12-07-2003 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Voodoo   Click Here to Email Voodoo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My inspiration wasn't so much a person as the local library. I had seen some of the later Apollo launches, but they hadn't made much of an impression on me -- Probably I was too young (+ perhaps a lousy B&W TV set?)

Anyway, a few years later, someone I knew at a summer recreation program had a colour TV, and he invited me over to his place to see the launch of the Apollo part of the Apollo Soyuz program in July 1975. One thing really stuck in my mind -- One of the reporters says something akin to (I Can't remember the exact words) "This will almost certainly be the last launch of a Saturn rocket from Cape Canaveral".

I don't know exactly why, but those words stuck in my head, and I wanted to learn more about the subject. I can still recall the first book I ever checked out about Spaceflight -- "Footprints on the Moon" by John Barbour. I learned about Sputnik, the Mercury 7, and Gemini, and learned about names like Ed White, Gus Grissom, James Lovell, Frank Borman, Alexei Leonov that I had never heard up to then. I then proceeded to read every book on the subject that I could find in any of the local libraries...

So, my thanks are to the local public library, who made it possible (in times past when information was a lot harder to come by) to learn about the history of spaceflight, and what made it all possible...

Fra Mauro

Posts: 1586
From: Bethpage, N.Y.
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 12-09-2003 10:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was inspired to follow NASA by the media, which during the 60's, showed non-stop coverage of most flight. The newspapers, the toy stores were filled with space stories and items. Thankfully today I teach a course on the space program to the next generation of space enthusiasts


Posts: 1156
From: Sandpoint, ID, USA
Registered: Mar 2003

posted 12-09-2003 11:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dss65   Click Here to Email dss65     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When this string first appeared, I was inclined to think that nobody particularly encouraged me -- that it was just a natural part of me and of the times. That's certainly largely true. After all, I remember TV sets being wheeled into my classrooms to watch Mercury launches -- at a time when we didn't even know the school had TV sets!

Thinking it over, though, certainly my parents at least fed into my interests. As a child, I remember them giving me a Moonscope (that I used a lot) a small planetarium that I used to project stars all over my bedroom and pretend I was in space, books, etc., etc., etc.

I also remember my brother and me with our Steve Canyon helmets on and shooting our ray guns at each other. I had toy robots, rocket ships, you name it. Especially as Christmas approaches, these are vivid memories, even though they are nearly half a century old.

I'm happy to say that both of my beloved parents are still alive, thank God. I'm pretty sure that I never saw Sputnik, but I do remember my Dad pointing out Echo moving across a star-filled night. I'm pretty certain that that's the first artificial satellite I ever saw. Thanks for triggering these memories.


Posts: 30
From: Corsicana, TX
Registered: Oct 2001

posted 12-10-2003 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for danatbird   Click Here to Email danatbird     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I give my Dad credit for my interest in the space program. I can remember sitting with him and watching TV coverage of every mission from Gemini on - and I was probably watching the Mercury missions as well.

I'm an only child, so growing up most of my time was spent hanging with adults - I chose to hang with the men rather than the women because they had much more interesting conversations. And my Dad has always had an interest in space, aviation, astronomy, etc... Give him a chance and he'll talk your ear off about any of those subjects!


Posts: 2031
From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: Sep 2003

posted 12-11-2003 12:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ColinBurgess   Click Here to Email ColinBurgess     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My beloved grandmother was a real history buff and a very smart lady. She used to go on all the TV quiz shows and often win, and we were incredibly proud of her.

I stayed with her for a week or so early in 1962, when I was 14 years old, and she used to read things out of the newspapers to me at breakfast. She was particularly entranced by the delays to the Mercury flight of John Glenn, and convinced me that when he flew it would be a pivotal moment in history.

The day he flew I called into the newsagents on the way home from school and bought both afternoon papers, which had huge headlines ("He's Home!" and "Glenn Safely Back"). I then began to collect cutting from other newspapers and magazines, and pretty soon I had been propelled into the interest of a lifetime.

When I started working I used to pop into one of those little Red Star bookshops and search through all the Soviet magazines looking for articles and photos about the cosmonauts, much to the horror of my mother. She was convinced that the FBI and CIA would have opened a file on me, and I'd probably never be allowed to travel overseas if they thought I was a Communist sympathiser! (I wasn't - I was just a space nut).

My grandmother also had a pretty hot item - a real portable typewriter. So one day on another visit the two of us sat down together and typed letters from me to all seven Mercury astronauts, c/o Manned Spacecraft Centre, Houston, Texas.

About four months later a letter arrived bearing the NASA logo, and I opened it very carefully. Inside was a signed letter from Gus Grissom which, of course, I still have.

Others arrived later, although some autographs I realised had to be machine manufactured, as the signatures were identical to those on other letters, so I was aware of the dreaded autopen very early on.

I wrote at least twice to each of the early astronauts, and in this way I received signed (sometimes handwritten) letters and photos from Ted Freeman, Elliot See, Charlie Bassett, Ed White, Ed Givens, Roger Chaffee, and C.C. Williams, which is why their later deaths were so personal to me.

I used to hunker down in my bed at night with my little transistor radio to listen to such events as the Gemini 7/6 rendezvous, and I would always try to tape the launches on my little reel-to-reel tape recorder. Much to my brothers' chagrin, I used to plaster the wall around my bed with astronaut photos rather than pop stars like them.

And just like another person in this forum, I used to write off to NASA Public Affairs every few months and ask for any material and photos pertaining to space flight. They never failed me, and those thick, brown envelopes were just manna from heaven.

Today, I still find it difficult to believe that I have met and even socialised with a lot of those heroes from my youth, and despite the tragedies which have peppered the spaceflight effort, it is an interest that has fascinated and sustained me from my youth.

Neil's first step onto the lunar surface happened just after midday here in Ausralia (in fact for us the moonwalk occurred on the 21st of July!) and I took a "sickie" from work to watch it live. No way was I going to miss that!


Posts: 441
From: San Jose, California, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 09-02-2011 12:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikepf   Click Here to Email mikepf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The scrapbook I mentioned at the beginning of this thread, made from Apollo mission newspaper clippings collected for me by my Aunt Rosemary from my Uncle Phil's newspapers, had one last empty spot after the articles about the ASTP landings.

I thought it would be fitting conclusion to the scrapbook to add a clipping of the STS-135 landing provided by their son and daughter-in-law, Phil and Lynn.

Scrapbook monetary value = 0.
Scrapbook sentimental value = priceless.


Posts: 2212
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-02-2011 08:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Quite simply my Dad, who sadly is no longer here.

He was always interested in SF in the 1950's and then manned spaceflight in the '60's. I became interested in about 1967/68 when I used to collect newspapers from neighbours and cut out all the space info to make up a scrapbook.


Posts: 1031
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 09-02-2011 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back in 98 or so when I was 6, I went to Kennedy Space Center for the first time. The day I went, STS-89 was being rolled out to the pad, which struck me as really cool even at that young age.

Apollo was always so interesting and I already knew a bit about space exploration from somewhere, I don't know when or where. Seeing the Saturn V and all the other rockets there was also so amazing.

In addition, they had a nice exhibit on the oncoming Mars Pathfinder mission and seeing the lander mockup looked very interesting. Plus you could drive around Sojourner with a remote control.

I have always read books that were many years beyond my grade level and when were at the gift shop one of the things I got was a children's biography of Neil Armstrong which I read and reread multiple times. When I got done reading it for the first time, Neil Armstrong became my first hero that I had.

So I guess it was my parents, NASA, and by proxy Neil Armstrong. All of them sparked the tinder that was in me into a burning desire to learn more about space exploration.

I've been a space buff and a WWII buff for nearly all my life. Just like every young boy, I wanted to be an astronaut and in 99 shortly after Sojourner was roving around Mars for Halloween I wanted to be the Sojourner rover. So my dad made a Sojourner costume for me. It was a large flat piece cardboard, cut into the shape of the rover, spray painted silver, had six wheels made from plastic bottles wrapped in tinfoil and it was held to me with suspenders. For the Antenna, we made a tinfoil hat with an antenna on top.

Our school always had a costume parade. When I walked into school that day, everyone was confused and I had to tell them what I was. "I'm the Mars rover" I said with a huge grin on my face. When my teacher saw me she said "Oh God David. You are going in the back of the parade line."

I still have it in the basement and it is intact except for a few missing wheels.


Posts: 1252
From: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-02-2011 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My older brother Kenny. He was 18 years my senior when I was ten in July 1969. An avid aviation enthusiast (as am I) he was a crew chief on UH1Ds. We sat together glued to the TV for the Apollo 11 landing.

Sadly he was killed in July 1972 in a helicopter crash. But he passed his interest in aviation and space which has never gone away.


Posts: 818
From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Registered: Aug 2004

posted 09-02-2011 11:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacepsycho   Click Here to Email Spacepsycho     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My grandpa Jack was the one who got me interested in the space program. He woke me up at 3:00AM PST on May 5, 1961 to watch Alan Shepard be the first American to fly into space. I actually remember watching the Redstone rocket launch and sitting on the bed with him as the mission progressed.

My grandfather had a 4th grade education, he worked on B-17's & B-24's in Canada during WW2 and he was a self educated builder/engineer. When the US space program was being formed, he told me this would be mankind's greatest achievement and regardless of the cost, it would be worth every penny.

In my room growing up, I had every astronauts photo on my walls with a Saturn V lifting off, painted on my wall. I went to school in a borderline ghetto area, so most of the other guys in school didn't care about the space program and spouted the line that we should be spending that money at home.

Jay Chladek

Posts: 2272
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 09-06-2011 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me, it was television. I was born in late 1970, so I was too young to remember the Apollo missions at all and I don't recall ever watching Skylab or ASTP coverage. But, when a show aired on ABC called "The Six Million Dollar" man and opened with the dialog "Steve Austin... astronaut... a man barely alive" I was curious and took more interest in astronauts and spaceflight. The other science fiction shows of the time such as Star Trek (in syndication) and Space:1999 that got me interested in space more, as did the PBS programs that showed NASA footage from the Gemini and Apollo days.

But it was the approach and landing tests of Enterprise that really cemented my interest, along with seeing some Apollo footage on one of those loop film playback machines in school (the film was in a self contained cartridge that could be plugged into a box-like projection system) that we could check out to watch films on a small display screen. Then there was also a really neat National Geographic book for young readers that my parents got for me that showcased a whole Apollo lunar flight and it had some REALLY good pictures in it. My young mind absorbed all these things like a sponge.


Posts: 281
From: Belleville, IL
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 09-09-2011 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me it was my father (died 2 months ago). I remember trips to see Gemini 6 at the St. Louis Planetarium way back in the early 1980's. It had two mannequins seated inside and I remember thinking to myself imagine the adventure that the two astronauts must have had with that capsule.

My father was interested in spaceflight, but not on the level that I have come to. It was usually the only thing we talked about when we saw each other, and he certainly sparked my lifelong interest.


Posts: 105
From: Columbia, Missouri USA
Registered: Nov 2010

posted 09-09-2011 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HistorianMom   Click Here to Email HistorianMom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I have to thank my son! My son went to a summer school class on the solar system when he was between first and second grade. The teacher there really must have been terrific; he got really interested in astronomy from her. He talked me into taking him to a couple of planetarium presentations, and from there, he picked up an interest in manned space flight.

From the time he was about seven, he was always reading kids' versions of astronaut biographies. I remember picking up and reading a few of them, most especially one about Michael Collins called "The Man who Went to the Far Side of the Moon." When he was about 8, Sally Ride came and did a book signing at a local book store for a children's book she'd written, and I took him out of school to go see her. When he was in third grade, they did a living history program, and he was Neil Armstrong. It's been like that his whole life.

When he was in 6th grade, he had a math project where he had to design his own dream trip, and calculate costs, down to mileage, hotel, meals, etc. His dream trip was the Kennedy Space Center. The next year we had the opportunity to surprise him with his dream trip for Spring Break. It was there that I began to realize that I was not just going there because the kid was interested, I had become interested as well.

For Christmas that year the kid bought me Collins' "Carrying the Fire," and also Chris Kraft's "Flight." He started following this site for Astronaut Appearances (I admit I used to refer to it as "Aubrey's Astronaut Stalker Site") when he was about 12, and our family vacations have often been centered on an astronaut appearance ever since. My husband and older son just tolerate the enthusiasm, but Aubrey (who is now 15) and I have gone to about half a dozen events together, from the Apollo 13 celebrations at the Cosmosphere to Spacefest III last June.

It is a wonderful thing to have a shared interest with a teenager, because as any parent can tell you, the teen years can be hard, but no matter how much tension there is, we can usually calm the waters if there is some space-related thing to talk about, some new video to watch... some new appearance to look forward to together.


Posts: 3161
From: San Diego
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 09-09-2011 04:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by HistorianMom: any parent can tell you, the teen years can be hard, but no matter how much tension there is, we can usually calm the waters if there is some space-related thing to talk about, some new video to watch...some new appearance to look forward to together.

On behalf of all of us who were once difficult teens in one way or another - thank you, and for all parents like you! Encouraging a positive interest can get kids through some tough years.


Posts: 105
From: Columbia, Missouri USA
Registered: Nov 2010

posted 09-09-2011 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HistorianMom   Click Here to Email HistorianMom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you! We are looking forward to meeting you next month at the Kansas Cosmosphere; we have already reserved our spots at Colonel Worden's talk, and we'll be at the reception as well, Lord Willing!

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