Wednesday, February 7

Falcon H, Bubba

Liftoff is 5:26 into the Video - They're Going to Make Space Exciting Again!

When I was just a boy, we went to the Moon. Shortly after I graduated from high school, we went to the Moon for the (until sometime in the future) last time. I vividly recall the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon. That was nearly 45 years ago. Almost a Half Century. On occasion, I wonder if we have peaked and are on a long, slow decline like that which resulted in the demise of the Roman Empire. Even to this day, the Saturn V Rocket remains the most powerful launch vehicle that mankind has ever produced. At launch, it put out just under 8 million pounds of thrust and put as much as 310,000 pounds into low Earth orbit. In the times since before any of my children were born, newsworthy space travel consisted of Space Shuttle explosions.

However, events such as yesterday's SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch give me hope that our greatest times may still lie ahead. While the Falcon Heavy has less than half the payload of the Saturn V, it is a major step back into the Future. SpaceX is a company that I've never worked for, though I worked in what is now their Hawthorne facility when Northrop produced 747 structure there and I also worked for Rocketdyne when they were designing the Space Shuttle engines. John Glenn was a part of our extended family and my father worked on the Saturn V for Boeing. I pay a lot of attention to what goes on with humanity's reach into space. You might say it's in my blood.

The movie, "The Right Stuff" had a phrase spoken when someone did well. I recall it as "Fuckin A, Bubba!" Well, now we can say "Falcon H, Bubba." It may be more polite, but it is entirely accurate and we can all look forward to seeing what comes next. I know that SpaceX is planning a larger rocket, known as the "BFR." I won't speculate on what BFR might be an acronym for, but I'll guess it is in the same spirit as the bubba comments in "The Right Stuff." When the BFR launches, we will finally go beyond what we accomplished with the Saturn V back in 1967.

Yup, perhaps our best days DO lie ahead, though probably none of our astronauts that went to the Moon will see mankind first set foot on Mars.


RANTWICK said...

I feel you on this. I'm roughly ten years younger, but I get it. There is indeed reason for optimism, although it isn't based purely in sheer rocket power. That said, POWER is just plain inspiring! Love you man!

cafiend said...

That last Saturn V launch may have been the one I was able to watch from all the way down in Miami. It was at night. The launch kept getting delayed. We kept seeing little lights rising, and wondered, "was that it? Was that it?" Suddenly the entire northern horizon seemed to erupt in flame. There was no mistaking the real thing. Unbelievably huge. Very cool.

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