3 – 2 – 1  Liftoff!

02 June, 2020

There for the first time in about 9 years and with the first new design in over 40 years, the Falcon 9 Rocket lifted the Crew Dragon up into near-earth orbit from US soil with two NASA astronauts on board, Bob and Doug. We did it! Our last space shuttle flight was in July of 2011.

This article first appeared in the IBAW June 2020 Magazine

I don’t know about you, but I was overcome with a sense of pride and even teared up just a bit. We talk often about being the best, about doing something great, and about leaving a positive legacy. This accomplishment by a partnership with SpaceX and NASA highlights all three of these points. It also highlights again, that we can do anything if we put our collective minds to it. How absolutely awesome! During the 1960s and through the 1980s, we went to space with a vengeance.  We dreamed of traveling to the moon – and then we did it. We dreamed of traveling to Mars – and then we did it. We dreamed of traveling outside of our solar system – and then we did it. We developed new technologies to support space travel, new foods, new fuels, and new ways of recycling for the journey – and then we did it again.

In July of 2009, along with all the scouts in our family as an honor guard, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. As I have mentioned in previous articles, my dad was one of the core team designers of the guidance and control system. Many of those designs are still in use today.  Astronaut Ken Reightler, Jr. keynoted the program right here in Milwaukee for the Delco team. Ken reinforced why space travel is so important to our future and to our collective psyche. Wow did we feel good about our past and our present.

Then we went silent. Space was not a priority. We gave it up to the Russians and the Chinese.As I watched the actual launch on Saturday with my dad, that old feeling came back. Of course, the new technology was awesome. Heads up displays in the cockpit, touch screens throughout the ship, new ergonomic space suits and electronic clipboards strapped to their legs, all this contributed to the new high tech feeling. Reflecting our times, the Falcon 9 rocket was even brought home and recycled after use. We did it again!

The pilots of Crew Dragon were Bob and Doug. Not Mr. or Astronaut, just plain old Bob and Doug. BTW – What is there not to like about a pilot named Bob?

Dad, of course, pointed out the things that used to be and how they have changed. His smile was so big it went around his head three times.  His small piece of the puzzle, his career contribution was to something bigger than him, bigger than all of us. Piece by piece, system by system, it all came together.  Now we can’t wait to get back on the moon by 2024. Then, on to Mars.

The lesson here for each and every one of us is to involve ourselves in something big, something grand. Contribute in any way possible to your part of the mission. Everyone’s contribution is essential. There is no such thing as a non-essential person. You are contributing to our living history. Enjoy it, live it, and be proud of it!

I do look forward to being able to personally meet with everyone in July when we plan to have our first in-person IBAW meeting since the pandemic hit. It will be wonderful. We will do it! Thanks again for being in the IBAW. Now, go forth and be successful!

Bob