Space

I was a child of the 60s. I loved the music and especially I loved the journey into space. I could tell you anything about it, even the names of the first seven astronauts: Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter.

History records that Shepard was the first American in space, and he was one of the lucky ones to walk on the Moon. Glenn was the face of space for the USA. He was the first American to orbit the Earth, and the oldest person in space. Grissom died in the Apollo 1 fire in 1967. And so on, you can look them up.

The next group included Jim Lovell, Neil Armstrong and John Young.

Of all these mentioned here by name, Lovell is still alive, and many more of the ‘original’ astronauts are on the go, such as Buzz Aldrin and Dave Scott.

Of the twelve who walked on the Moon, four are still alive, Aldrin, Charlie Duke, Scott and Harrison Schmitt.

And while we all remember Apollo 11, and 13 probably, how many remember Apollo 12? Pete Conrad and Alan Bean walked on the Moon. They were more productive, more confident. The pressure was off somewhat.

In later life, Al Bean took up painting. He appeared in documentaries about space, including In The Shadow Of The Moon, a must see if you are interested in space.

It was announced yesterday that Mr Bean had died after a short and sudden illness. This follows Gene Cernan and John Young, both of whom died recently.

It is sad to think that if America wanted to go to the Moon this year, they couldn’t do it. The technology and the know-how no longer exists.

John Young

I was born in 1954 and my formative years were in the 1960s. I always find it hard to explain to people what it was like then, but it was an exciting time, a time for change and advancement.

My big interest was space, and I am sure I just about remember Sputnik. I definitely remember coming home from school and my mum telling me about Yuri Gagarin, an under-sung hero in the history of the world.

I knew all about the America astronauts, all the missions and craft, and I followed it carefully. JFK made a commitment to landing a man on the Moon before the decade was  out, and returning him safely to Earth. If he had said that now, he would have been all over the press for excluding women.

Most people’s “favourite” astronaut was probably John Glenn. The most famous, possibly one of the most famous people who have ever lived, was Neil Armstrong. There are very few of the originals still alive. Glenn died recently and my favourite, John Young died the other day at a good age.

He was, I would say, a character. Famously, on one flight he smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto the craft. He was the only person in the entire history of the World to fly to the Moon twice and land once. You can read more about him here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Young_(astronaut)

If you can catch the wonderful film In The Shadow Of The Moon, Young’s contribution shows that he was still as enthusiastic as ever about space, always looking to the future.

He would be sad, I am sure, that we no longer have the capability to go to the Moon.