from: How Do You Burp in Space? And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know
written by Susan E. Goodman
illustrated by Michael Slack
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2013
I’ve said many times, I don’t have wanderlust. I like to stay home. I knew I would not grow up to be an explorer or an astronaut.
But in 1962, counting backwards meant something new. Now it wasn’t just counting backwards. It was a countdown. And blastoff! always came after one.
The space program captured our collective curiosity in the 1960s and lead to an explosion of all things space. Here are a few I remember:
- My Favorite Martian
- Lost in Space
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Telstar That earworm will stick in my head for days just because I thought about it.
- Astronaut Barbie
Astronaut Barbie was introduced in 1965. She was part of a career series that Mattel developed to answer Mom’s questionable tone about Barbie. Mom didn’t change her mind. So I went to my friends’ houses and played with their Barbies. I don’t think Mom ever found out.
None of my friends wanted to be astronauts or scientists. I don’t even remember talking about a career of any kind. We just played.
When John Glenn was a kid, he loved airplanes. Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. Six-year-old John was fascinated. He had his first plane ride at age eight. He flew a fighter bomber in World War II. He flew at supersonic speed in 1957. I remember those sonic booms. We always knew when they were coming and would run outside to catch a glimpse of the plane. The ground shook under our feet, the windows rattled in the houses, but I never saw the plane. It was too fast.
On February 20, 1962, John Glenn was not the first person in space, but he was the first to orbit the earth.
In 1998, when John was 77 years old he flew again, this time to help scientists discover how space travel affects the aging process. In his 1999 memoir he wrote, "It was hard to imagine that virtually the entire history of space travel had occurred between my first ride and my second..."
And aboard the Friendship 7, during that historic triple orbit of the earth, John remarked, “I don't know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets.”
As the sun sets on a long life well-lived, we say good bye. John Glenn: scientist, humanitarian, public servant. Thank you. You will be missed.