Join Donate

Share Your Story • Dennis Demcheck • December 10, 2012

Sputnik-Gemini-Apollo-Curiosity: it's all exciting

Sputnik-Gemini-Apollo-Curiosity:  it's all exciting

I don’t remember when I wasn’t excited. I just missed Sputnik. I recall looking skyward with my parents and neighbors but my 4-year-old eyes missed the show. I saw Echo I pass overhead in 1960. I was 7. I spotted that bright moving dot in the night sky and was very excited. I was excited because everyone else was. This was no solitary intellectual vigil. All the neighbors, parents, kids, were in the front yards looking up. I was one of them. I vividly remember the 1966 Gemini 8 mission (Armstrong and Scott) when things went wrong. I stayed with them watching TV on the sofa well into the night until splashdown. I felt like I really helped. I wasn’t just watching: I was participating. Frankly, I don’t think they would have made it down safely without me. I did the same thing with Curiosity’s landing on Mars: The only things that changed were the sofa and the TV. Referring to Emily Lakdawalla’s question of visions for the future (May I answer 2 questions with one post?) I can only wonder at everyone else’s lack of vision. I saw 2001 A Space Odyssey at the theater in 1968 and wondered why Stanley Kubrick thought it would take until 2001 to get only as far as Jupiter, practically a next door neighbor. “Not very visionary,” I thought at the time. My excitement was the same when I was a high school senior watching the Apollo 15 mission in July 1971. Note 2 things in the attached photo that truly ‘date’ it: 1. A white T-shirt with nothing printed on it (pre-Geek Chic) 2. The No Trespassing high-security rope I’m holding. Ha! And that was the day before the launch. Simpler times. Who would seriously threaten space exploration anyway?

Comments & Sharing
Bill Nye and people
Let's Change the World

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Today

The Planetary Fund

Help advance robotic and human space exploration, defend our planet, and search for life.


You are here: