Moonday: A Sad Time for US

A Personal Note:  Today’s Heroic Hunks in History post is not my usual sort.  I’m continuing the theme of Apollo Belvedere as a model for Hunkish Handsomeness but adding three additional, more contemporary, Heroic Hunks and making a political commentary that breaks my heart.

The Apollo 17 patch is the featured pic with the Apollo Belvedere, the god of the sun, looking into the distance at vistas America has yet to explore.  The Apollo 17 mission in December, 1972 was the last time astronauts left Earth’s orbit, then landed and walked on the moon.

The official NASA caption to the press release photo (credit:  NASA Johnson) of the Apollo 17 patch reads: “The insignia is dominated by the image of Apollo, the Greek sun god. Suspended in space behind the head of Apollo is an American eagle of contemporary design, the red bars of the eagle’s wing represent the bars in theU.S.flag; the three white stars symbolize the three astronaut crewmen. The background is deep blue space and within it are the Moon, the planet Saturn and a spiral galaxy or nebula. The Moon is partially overlaid by the eagle’s wing suggesting that this is a celestial body that man has visited and in that sense conquered. The thrust of the eagle and the gaze of Apollo to the right and toward Saturn and the galaxy is meant to imply that man’s goals in space will someday include the planets and perhaps the stars. The colors of the emblem are red, white and blue, the colors of our flag; with the addition of gold, to symbolize the golden age of space flight that will begin with this Apollo 17 lunar landing. The Apollo image used in this emblem was the Apollo of Belvedere sculpture now in the Vatican Gallery in Rome. This emblem was designed by artist Robert T. McCall in collaboration with the astronauts.”

The collage pictures the Apollo 17 patch, the Saturn V Rocket that launched the command module America and the lunar module Challenger into space, and a crew portrait of Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt, Ronald E. Evans, and Eugene A. Cernan—the last astronaut to walk on the moon.

Last week (6/1/2011), the Space Shuttle Endeavour landed for the last time.  Next month, the Space Shuttle Atlantis will make its last flight to International Space Station.  President Obama has taken America out of space for the short-term and, according to three former Apollo commanders in a letter to President Obama, for the long-term as well.

Check out the excerpt of a letter printed on 4/13/2010 by MSNBC in which former astronauts Neil Armstrong, James Lovell  and Eugene Cernan urge President Obama to reconsider what they warn would be “devastating” new policies for the future of NASA:

“For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destinies our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature.  While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space.  If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.”

To read the entire letter:

For future trips to the Space Station, the United Sates must hitch a ride with the Russians at a cost of $50,000,000 (yes, 50 million dollars) per seat.  Both shuttles will be placed in museums, even though they have completed only half the missions for which they were designed and NASA will lose about 7,000 jobs.  Saddest of all, American children must view the shuttles in museums as relics of America’s proud past, rather than watch those magnificent shuttles blast into space inspiring their dreams for the future.

Next week, another Apollo Belvedere knock-off.  Rita Bay


6 Responses

  1. A sobering piece of commentary, Rita.

    I have a friend who dedicated his entire scientific career to the space program, who is understandably saddened and disturbed so many years of effort by numerous individuals are being dismissed.

    He chose to serve his country with his intelligence—yet the space program deals with such unique, finite issues it isn’t likely there’s another ‘company’ requiring his specific services, or a ‘position’ he can transfer to on the outside.

    And to think that when an elementary teacher asks students to stand up and tell the class what they want to be when they grow up, none of them will be able to say “An astronaut!”

    Seems to pull the luster right out of that patch, doesn’t it?

    • It does, Runere. I grew up watching the space program evolve. Although space travel is not for me, I’m so proud of what the USA did and I firmly believe in American exceptionality. Rita Bay

  2. This is a sad time… What has america come to? Are we becoming such a poor country that we lose something so important? What else will we let fall? The American Flag, or the Pledge of Allegiance. For those who think it’s not worth the fight to keep it in our schools, like the prayer. Whatever happened to what our forefathers started? You know they’d turn over in their graves in shame for the way some things are just thrown away.. Let me shut up… Thank you for the post Rita.. love ya girl

  3. I grew up with the dream of being the first woman in space, well, unitl Sally Ride beat me to it. I lived near the cape, many of my friends and family have lost their jobs over the past few years. You can’t give homes away in Titusville. That area is truly hit hard. My prayers go out to all those that are without work and to the American people for sacraficing such a huge part of our dreams.

    • You were so lucky to be able to be so close to the Cape, Ciara. I don’t think the truth is out about what is happening there. Obama makes it out like we’re going to do something in the future but the letter I referenced debunks all that.
      It amazes me that the US has the money to bail out private corporations whose own employees ran the companies into the ground and to pay billions of in aid to countries who hate us, then can’t find the $$ for our space program.
      Making all those thieving relatives of deceased federal workers who have continued collecting retirement benefits of reitred federal workers would pay for the program. All they’d need to do is run the retirement payroll against the Soc Security Death Index and they’d pick it up–at least in those who paid into the Soc Sec System. Rita Bay

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