Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My email to Seth

I honestly don't quite understand what you want, so I'll just ramble and maybe you can cull something out of it.

I've been fascinated by space for a very long time. I can remember the Ranger 7 spacecraft in 1964, which was just a rocket with a camera aimed at the moon. I had no way of landing. It just sent video frames as it crashed into the moon. I was 14 at the time and can remember that it was on TV that morning, and I was late or almost late getting to school as I waited for the images to appear on the screen. I still carry that last image, of a dimpled cratered surface, in my memory. The sequence of the last few frames, giving the mental image of approaching the moon has been one of the important points in my childhood.

As far as the presidents involved, and the politics, at that time, I could care less. I wanted to go into space, and as the realities crept in -- astronauts had to have perfect vision, and I wore glasses -- I just wanted men in space.

As the regular progression of space exploration happened, I was right there, watching TV, soaking it up.
I can remember Apollo XI and the landing. I can remember that, at that time, I had just been working long enough to have paid my income taxes, and feeling immensely happy that I had a tiny part in the events on the screen.

Nixon made a phone call to the astronauts, I think. At the time, I thought it was a little inappropriate. The astronauts were doing the real job and the politicians were just side issues.

The winning of the race to the moon, while not important to me, was the end of America's space program. I hadn't realized how the politics behind it all were necessary for the funding. When the Apollo missions ended, it was a personal betrayal. People didn't understand how important it all was.

I can remember watching the movie Apollo 13, and after walking out of the movie house, seeing the full moon overhead, knowing there was no one there, and maybe there wouldn't be in my lifetime.

I am a science fiction writer, and I wrote a novel that took place just the east of Mare Crisium. That was my claim to the moon. I mapped and plotted and lived on that one spot of the moon. Now, when I look up at the moon, I see my spot, my piece of the moon. It's probably all I'll ever get.

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