Alan Shepard

Sixty Years Of The Space Age: A Time Of Great Achievements And Technological Advancements

Yesterday, October 4, was the 60th anniversary of the Space Age, as the Soviet Union shocked the world by orbiting an artificial satellite, Sputnik I, beginning the Space Race, leading to the United States landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, after promotion by John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. It was the age of Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and so many other heroic astronauts.

It transformed American thinking, and helped to promote science, math, and technology, and the importance of promoting higher education.

So under President Eisenhower, we saw the enactment of the National Defense Education Act in 1958, and the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, with headquarters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and later in Houston, Texas.

The Space Age promoted patriotism and excitement, as millions of Americans watched all of the launches of satellites and of astronauts on television.

This blogger remembers the uniqueness of the Space Age, and is still saddened by the lack of commitment to go further into space, with the argument that we could not afford the expenditure.

If we had continued the pace of the Space Age after the last mission to the moon in 1972, America would likely now have explored Mars, which now is a goal for the 2030s, after many lost decades.

The loss of interest in science, is a great tragedy, as many ignorant people have worked against it, instead advocating religion over science, to the detriment of the nation.

An Eventful Four Days In American History–April 12-15

Every day in the calendar year one can find historical events of great significance, but in many ways, the days from April 12 to 15 are particularly outstanding for turning point moments in American history.

April 12 is the day the Civil War began at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina in 1861.

April 12 is also the day of the first American astronaut, Alan Shepard, to go into space in 1961.

Sadly, April 12 is also the day of the death of the greatest President of the 20th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945.

April 13 marks the birthday of one of our greatest Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, in 1743.

April 14 is another sad day, marking the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President, shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, and dying the morning of April 15, 1865, at 7:22 AM, at the Peterson House across the street.

Also, on April 15, 1947, the nation witnessed the racial integration of baseball with the courage and skills of second baseman Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Any four day period that includes the birthday of a President, the death of our two greatest Presidents, the beginning of the most significant event in American history (the Civil War), the ushering in of the Space Age for the United States, and the integration of major league baseball, is simply an amazing four days!

A Momentous Early May Fifty Years Ago!

In early May of 1961, two momentous events worthy of notice occurred, and it is now 50 years since those path breaking events!

On May 5, Alan Shepard was launched into space as the first American, astronaut, going up and down in a rocket in less than an hour, not as dramatic as Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union being launched into orbit 23 days earlier on April 12. Despite the Shepard launch being far less significant, it marked the beginning of the American manned space program, and later that month, on May 25, President John F. Kennedy would announce what seemed impossible at the time, the landing of Americans on the moon before 1970!

On May 9, the first Freedom Ride of black and white civil rights pioneers took place, the attempt to integrate interstate transportation on buses throughout Dixie, a daring and dangerous set of circumstances, which led to bloodshed and violence in Southern bus terminals and on the interstate highways, as Ku Klux Klan activists assaulted civil rights demonstrators and set buses on fire, along with other types of violence. But this reality led the US government to order federal marshals to enforce integration on interstate transportion, and also resulted later in 1961 in the issuance by the Interstate Commerce Commission of an integration order on all transportation within the United States!

The kind of pioneering spirit of Alan Shepard and other astronauts, and of civil rights activists who put their lives at risk to enforce equality, is worthy of notice and recognition and praise 50 years later!

50 Years Of Man In Space: NOT Time To Delay Space Exploration!

Fifty years ago today, Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth for the Soviet Union, becoming the first man in space, but followed soon after by Alan Shepard, John Glenn and many other American astronauts, along with many Soviet cosmonauts.

Space exploration opened up a new field of science, and on this anniversary, it is essential to look forward and continue space exploration as good for knowledge and for the future of the earth!

The purpose of America must be to compete in exploring the planets and beyond, and it should not be forgotten or delayed at a time when the space shuttle fleet is about to be retired!

Failure to explore space would be the equivalent of explorers deciding after Christopher Columbus to abandon the mission of settling the Western Hemisphere! To abandon space now would be a tragedy of long lasting effects!