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NASA Science

Space Team Reunites For John Glenn's Friendship 7 82

Hugh Pickens writes "An era begins to pass as only about 25 percent of today's American population were at least 5 years old when John Glenn climbed into the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule on Feb. 20, 1962 and became the first American to orbit the earth. This weekend John Glenn joined the proud, surviving veterans of NASA's Project Mercury to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his historic orbital flight as Glenn and Scott Carpenter, the two surviving members of the original astronaut corps, thanked the retired Mercury workers, now in their 70s and 80s, who gathered with their spouses at the Kennedy Space Center to swap stories, pose for pictures and take a bow. 'There are a lot more bald heads and gray heads in that group than others, but those are the people who did lay the foundation,' said 90-year-old Glenn. Norm Beckel Jr., a retired engineer who also was in the blockhouse that historic morning, said almost all the workers back then were in their 20s and fresh out of college. The managers were in their 30s. 'I don't know if I'd trust a 20-year-old today.' Bob Schepp, 77, was reminded by the old launch equipment of how rudimentary everything was back then. 'I wonder how we ever managed to launch anything in space with that kind of stuff,' said Schepp. 'Everything is so digital now. But we were pioneers, and we made it all work.'"
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Space Team Reunites For John Glenn's Friendship 7

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  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday February 19, 2012 @03:26PM (#39094209) Homepage

    And the other 'private' space companies.

    Seems like it's the 1960's all over again. Small groups of engineers trying to do something cool. Maybe that's what we need to bootstrap things up again. Of course, they're essentially trying to do the same thing as NASA was trying to do in the 1960's minus the unknown factor.

    But I bet it's fun to work in an environment where you have a small group of intelligent people.

    (Sighs and and tries to focus enough on federal compliance regulations long enough to get ready for tomorrow's administration meeting.)

  • Godspeed! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stox ( 131684 ) on Sunday February 19, 2012 @03:33PM (#39094263) Homepage

    I can only hope we can revigorate ourselves to reach even further in the years ahead of us.

    As for the 20 year old quip, the young are not burdened with what the older think is impossible. Conversely, the older have learned that
    it is probably not a good idea to juggle bottles of nitro glycerin. Though, sometimes, we will stand back a ways and watch the youngin try. ;->
    Sometimes, we're surprised!

  • Re:So casual... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UziBeatle ( 695886 ) on Sunday February 19, 2012 @04:03PM (#39094455)

    "Since when was ageism okay?"

    Well, I suppose it does sound that way. I'll give it my spin
    from a 56 year old perspective and maybe some insight
    for you.

    When I graduated from a very middle class neighboorhood
    High School (in the shadow of the Johnson Space Center, Clear
    Lake,TX) back in 1974 I knew full well that the standards
    I was being judged by were less than prior years.

    I can't speak for all school districts, onlly the one I was involved with but I know many across the United States, by that time, had greatly backed off standard needed to graduate and teaching methods had changed during the 60's.

    Examples. Multiple choice questions tests began
    to become far more common as time went on. In the
    past students had either fill in the blank or worse, ESSAY
    type responces on weekly tests.
    I'm sure even todays student realizes how easy multiple
    choice tests are and that fill in the blank and essay
    systems require more knowledge. By the time I was in
    school in the 60's and 70's essay responses were
    pretty much gone. It was rare for me to face them.

    On English courses. In years before my experience
    in public High School students were required to file
    far more written essays during the year than we were.
    In fact, by the time I graduated my school district
    had greatly relaxed the final English requirements
    and the final essay test score impact on your total
    score was lowered by a significant amount.

    Mathematics. In my school district the math requirements
    were lowered during the 70's. By the time I graduated
    one merely needed ALgebra 1 and Geometry 1 to get
    a free pass to graduation. Pretty sad as prior generations, particularly early 60's era and before had MUCH more
    math required under their belts prior to thinking of going
    to college.

    The sciences. Again, lowered requirements. Physics
    was required in prior years. In my case again, one didn't need
    near as much chemistry and 'real' physics was not required.
    You could get by with a pretty skimpy science exposure overall.

    I've got a number of books on my shelves that date to the
    early part of prior century and up thru the mid 40's that
    focus on the teaching of Algebra and Geometry to that
    eras equivilant of grade school thru high school levels.
    Trust me those books show to me that expected
    standards were much higher for students earlier
    in the food chain. Grade school kids were learning
    mathematics that only was experienced by me
    until High School in the 70's.
    I recall when a High School degree actually meant something.
    By the 80's it was common feeling among many I worked
    with then that High School degrees by that era were
    becoming more and more meaningless due to the
    standards the Publik Skool Districts were using.

    This isn't to say that by today there are not brilliant
    20 somethings out there. We all know there are.
    It is my sense, at the ancient age of 56 , that there
    are far less as a percentage of the population, of solid
    very knowledgeable people in the pool to pick from.

    Indeed, think about it. I was amazed myself at the progress
    of the USA space program. I knew it was powered by
    German science as that was no secret. I knew
    that we had a miserable space program at the start of the 60's and were actually incapable of lifting jack squat into
    space without rockets blowing up right and left.
    Mercury, Gemini , Apollo and the landing men on the fraking
    moon on July 20, 1969 all occurred in a mere damn 9 years.

    That sir, was a miracle compared to today. I don't think
    it could be reproduced.

    So, yah, though it hurts to admit it. I agree, that that generation
    of 20 to 30 year olds were far more potent than the generation
    I came from in the sense they

  • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Sunday February 19, 2012 @05:00PM (#39094801)

    An interesting comment on yahoo article by 7againstThebes, "When he didn't launch the first time...or the second...or the third...etc., he didn't blame politicians, he didn't blame the NASA staff, he didn't blame his fellow astronauts. He's a real pro in every sense of the word. Kids, watch him and learn."

    Most are too young to remember, and many old timers have forgot, it was scrub after scrub after scrub after scrub after scrub... till they ***finally*** got that can off the ground. Getting off the ground is hard, really hard, and it ain't cheap.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.