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Mom - the rocket builder

Kevin Dodd

December 2, 2012

When I was in grade school, my mom worked for North American Aviation (later called Rockwell International), the prime contractor for the Apollo program. She would always bring home the company newsletters that detailed the progress of the program, space program promotional materials, and she also had access to lots of neat NASA stuff like pins and mission patches. I was so proud of her! Although she was "just" a secretary, I imagined her building rockets and working with astronauts. North American also made the X-15 rocket aircraft, which I thought was the greatest thing in the world, and I followed it's exploits in the company newspapers as well. Back in those days, I would wake up early to watch the giant Saturn V moon rockets launch, and hope the countdown would not be delayed too long, and make me late for school (and mom late for work!). I also remember the teachers hauling in the old TV's to our classrooms so we could watch the splashdowns when the astronauts returned. I knew that I had a special connection to those missions, because my mom worked for the space program, and helped make it all possible. How cool was that! In later years, when I was able to visit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and actually see the real Apollo Command Module, the Lunar Lander, the X-15, and the Skylab model (another Rockwell program I grew up reading about) the connection was still there. Mom is 85 years old now, and has pretty serious dementia. I don't think she really knows who I am anymore. But when the Space Shuttle Endeavor flew over my home town of Los Angeles for the last time, I made sure to see it. And when I took my family to see it moving through the streets, I felt that same pride again. Because Rockwell built that too, and so did my mom.


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