Let's not forget contribution of 'space race' to advances in technology
Putting John Glenn's accomplishment 50 years ago into perspective.
Monday was the 50th anniversary of astronaut John Glenn's historic orbit around the Earth.
I've always had a passion for anything having to do with our nation's space program. I get it from my dad. Growing up, our house was full of Time-Life books on history, including the space race, which I flipped through over and over.
Editor's Note: We interrupt our four-part series exploring angel investing to honor the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's orbit around the Earth.
My dad, Tommy Thurman Walker, is a chemist and a lifelong student of political science and current events. To this day he likes to share chemistry formulas during conversation ending with … “savvy?” (As if I truly understand.) While I get all fired up about the technology behind man's quest of space, my dad has a cool way of putting Glenn's mission into perspective.
“I was in college when Sputnik went up,” he said. “The Russians put a meaningless satellite into space, but that meant they were ahead of us. When John Kennedy took office in '61, one of his first speeches to Congress was about going to the moon by the end of the decade.”
There was a lot of talk about the wisdom of putting money into a space program. There were debates that it would help the economy because of the jobs and the research, while other people said the country was just throwing money away.
“We were just coming out of a recession,” my dad said. “John Glenn was a hero. He gave legitimacy to the program. Young people were enthusiastic about space and what the future held. That's the way I felt, like it was going to create jobs and prosperity.”
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