When I was younger, I hated it when we would be decorating the Christmas tree and mom would find the star ornament I made and say, “Oh, here’s my favorite, Sputnik!” [Read more about the ornament and the satellite in Chapter 1 of Generation Space: A Love Story.]
You see, I wasn’t into all that space stuff like my sister. I wasn’t paying much attention when the shuttle program was gearing up. Still, I was being raised to be a future news junkie. Thus, my first real Gen Space moment was all of us in mom and dad’s bedroom on the morning of April 14, 1981. I was sitting on the king size bed in my jammies waiting for the first shuttle to land. I can’t remember for sure, but I think we must have been watching Tom Brokaw and John Chancellor on NBC because that was the station our antenna received the most clearly.
There was the communications black-out and reports on the tremendous heat the shutlle was going through. That built the suspense because no one knew what was really happening. Honestly, since this lated 21 minutes, it was a little boring to me because there was a lot of talking. Then, communication was restored and white dot appeared on the screen. [See video below.]
When Columbia finally touched down, I thought, “It’s just a really fat airplane. People will be be able to take an airplane to other planets.” That was such an exciting idea!
Later, in July of that year, Charles and Diana were married. Anna and I stayed up to watch it live. To me, the wedding was a lot more exciting than the shuttle landing.
Today, I see things differently. I love little Sputnik, even if it only has a few toothpicks left. Charles and Di’s marriage didn’t last. But the allure of space lives on with talk of landing people on Mars.