Spaced Out

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon launch. Whenever I look back over the rapid change and technological achievements over the 20th century, the thing that stands out as the most amazing in my mind is that humans (and by that I jingoistically mean Americans) figured out how to get an airplane off the ground in 1903 and by 1969 could send men to the moon and bring them back.

And it likely wasn’t a bunch of rich Ivy League rich kids content to earn a “gentleman’s C” who did it. Let’s face it, it was eggheads. Which is why, compared to Madison Avenue or publishing in the ’60s, NASA had no style. My sense is that it was a those damn meritocratic types who weren’t savvy at squash or tennis, and who liked straight collars and short sleeves. Can you imagine a Kennedy in a short-sleeved shirt? A patrician rolls up his sleeve just like a poor man. The preppiest person in the control room is a woman in a Lacoste shirt.

Those of you who lived through the era would know better than me. On this day in 1969, I was four months in utero.

Oh, and for a look a the tradlier side of NASA, don’t forget this celebrated Ask Andy thread on astronaut style circa 1960. — CC

58 Comments on "Spaced Out"

  1. I was 11 at the time. My brother and I took tennis lessons at the high school courts near our house, and our whole family was glued to the TV for all of the Apollo 11 mission. Watching our men land on the moon was inspiring. For me it was a magical summer.

  2. This is what we used to call “engineering school style” – white shirts with pockets full of pens and paraphernalia, short sleeves in the summer, drab ties and suits, etc. Purely functional clothing, very much workwear for the technocrat.

    I was coming up on my senior year in college, and had worked 12 hours the day of the moon landing. I slept through the whole thing on my girlfriend’s couch.

  3. elder prep | July 16, 2019 at 8:57 pm |

    I was a Staff Sergeant in 1969 the U.S. Army in Dept. of Engineering and Military Science at Ft. Belvoir, VA finishing up my third and last year of my three enlistment. I recall there was an old B/W TV in a classroom and the room was filled with off and on duty soldiers watching this incredible event. My only thoughts now on that event was, we (the U.S.) was not ready to pursue visiting another planet or its satellite. I am aware of the signifiant acheivement of the ISS, the Space Shuttles regular flights, and the launching of exploratory probes to Mars and to the ends of our Solar System, but nothing man equipped.

  4. An incredible decade. The numbers of significant historical events are impressive. Wow!

  5. Dan Christensen | July 17, 2019 at 12:46 am |

    Many of us were more impressed by color TV, CorningWare, digital wristwatches, affordable microwave ovens, Corfam (!), cordless remote controls for TVs, etc.

  6. Old School Tie | July 17, 2019 at 1:24 am |

    I was 1 year and 10 months old, so no idea of what was going on, but a few years later my parents bought me a View-Master and the first set of reels I had were of the Moon Landings and many of those images are scored on my mind’s eye….

  7. Sadly, I don’t see much celebration taking place, commemorating the “50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing”. To be honest, I don’t see any! Compare it to how our beloved nation has been celebrating the “50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots”. Some food for thought there.

  8. Old School Tie | July 17, 2019 at 4:31 am |

    I.T. – because your president’s comments are repeatedly hijacked and fed into the media machine which spews out crisis after engineered crisis, day in day out. If it’s not part of the liberal narrative, it doesn’t get a look in. Obviously, a bunch of clever, white, privileged men demonstrating their intellectual prowess by putting men on the moon does not quite square with the narrative. No doubt any mention of Apollo sends AOC and her “squad” into uncontrolled seething spasms of hatred. I suppose it all has to commemorated in private….

  9. Beto O'Leary | July 17, 2019 at 7:29 am |

    You want to see fawning media coverage, wait for the Woodstock 50th next month.

  10. Boop McSnoot | July 17, 2019 at 9:33 am |

    You might not be hearing anything because the moon landing anniversary is ongoing. It launched yesterday, July 16, 1969, landed on the moon on July 20, and came back to earth on July 24. PBS, that enemy of conservatives, aired a three night documentary about it. I’ve seen a ton of stuff about it in the “liberal” media, whatever that is.

    Trust this comments section to connect literally anything to reactionary politics. Well, that may just be Old School Tie. Maybe someone should send him a poster of AOC to put on the ceiling above his bed? Then you can shout at her all day about the moon landing and not keep bringing her up here. However, I agree that Trump’s despicable racist comments should take priority over nationalistic rehashings of our past.

  11. George Mildred | July 17, 2019 at 10:20 am |

    Surprised to hear American media aren’t celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Here in the UK the BBC is giving up hours of coverage on TV and radio reflecting with style and intelligence on this remarkable cultural moment.

  12. Tony Marston | July 17, 2019 at 10:38 am |

    So we beat the Russkies to the Moon and…?

  13. john carlos | July 17, 2019 at 10:43 am |

    I was 19 at the time, having just completed my freshman year of college. If memory serves, it was also the same weekend that Teddy Kennedy, Mary Jo Kopechne incident at Chappaquiddick happened.

  14. AOC School Tie | July 17, 2019 at 10:46 am |

    I literally had my watch out and…5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Haha.

  15. john carlos | July 17, 2019 at 11:35 am |

    “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”.

  16. MacMcConnell | July 17, 2019 at 12:28 pm |

    I was 17 at the time, watched it all. If you have cable you would have noticed lots of channels running docs on the Apollo Program and the Landing. The “old movie” channels have been running 1950’s and 60s scifi space travel movies late at night all week.

    It amazes me that a possibly xenophobic tweet by the President (basically the old 1960s “Love It or Leave It”) is considered racist, words now have no meaning. You can’t criticise the Left’s comments or ideas now without being racist. By the new standards, anyone ever criticizing Justice Thomas’ opinions are racist dogs. You made the new rules.

  17. whiskeydent | July 17, 2019 at 12:52 pm |

    I see the moon landing as a metaphor for America at its best.

    Our most lethal enemy, Russia, was the first to put a man in space. The stunning achievement was viewed as a major national security threat. JFK did more than answer the challenge. He one-upped the Russians by saying we’d put a man on the moon.

    NASA delivered his promise. Dozens of brilliant, dedicated engineers and scientists made hundreds of technological advances, many of which became part of the foundation of today’s tech industry. They didn’t do it for the money. They did it for America.

    All along the way, there were doubters. No-nothings pointed at the early failures and said it couldn’t be done. Others moaned about the money. Some even said we faked it to justify their stubborn, willful ignorance. They are mere footnotes in history. The heroes are in bold print.

    Think about that.

  18. MacMcConnell | July 17, 2019 at 12:56 pm |

    Most engineers I know usually wear short sleeves and clip on ties. My engineer uncle says it’s for comfort and safe. I call it the Isadora Duncan rule.

  19. Boop McSnoot | July 17, 2019 at 1:26 pm |

    @Mac – If the tweets were merely xenophobic, why were they about four American citizens, only one of whom was born outside the US? If they weren’t racist, why were they only about Democratic lawmakers who aren’t white, rather than including white Democrats born outside the US or to immigrant parents? Just a couple questions…

  20. Michael J. Lotus | July 17, 2019 at 1:35 pm |

    I was six years old. I remember the takeoff. I remember the landing. I remember the splashdown.

    Great days for America and for all of mankind.

    And it is great that Kennedy deflected Cold War competition into feats of technology, as much as possible, and away from direct military confrontation.

  21. Billions of dollars on research and development, hundreds of NASA engineers toiling away past midnight, and fifty years later the only good that came about from it all is…Velcro?

  22. Three cheers for PBS…and the creative, visionary minds who make the moon landing happen. And for JFK’s leadership.

    Now, having said all that — in all seriousness:

    (1.) Beyond boasting rights (“We beat those Communist Ruskies!”), what good has come of the landing on the moon?
    (2.) Related to #1, why would young people, who can’t find a good job and face environmental crises galore, care about the moon landing (at all)?
    (3.) Could the 22 billion dollars we’ll send to NASA this year be spent/invested in a more productive way?

    Finally, a point: the engineers I know are, without a doubt, the worst dressed people I know. THE. WORST.

  23. meanwhile (same year), a bunch of New England preppies were engaged in certain aeronautical pursuits:

    https://archive.org/details/potpourri00unse_76/page/132

  24. MacMcConnell | July 17, 2019 at 3:20 pm |

    Boop
    America is a wonderful place, we are free to leave anytime we want to. Regardless of color we have not descended to the point where politicians of color get special treatment concerning their political views. They have the right to their views, I have the right to criticise those views.

    32% of Democrats believe any criticism of politicians of color is racist according to Rasmussen. That’s called intellectually bankrupt.

    By your rules, only Irish Catholics can criticise my opinions. 😉

  25. whiseydent | July 17, 2019 at 3:45 pm |

    S.E.

    The short answer to your question is “a lot.” Here’s the long one:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spinoff_technologies

  26. Ted Farnsworth | July 17, 2019 at 3:49 pm |

    Time, effort, and money wasted in a pissing contest with the Reds.
    In the end, we pissed farther than the Commies.
    No wonder Europeans think that Americans never grow up.

  27. whiskeydent | July 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm |

    Mac
    I just reviewed the Rassmussen poll and saw that it didn’t ask Republicans if they think any criticism of Trump is just liberal attacks. I suspect the responses would be equally intellectually bankrupt. Right now, large percentages of both parties are pissed off and prone to irrational reasoning.

  28. Look at those cool plastic pocket protectors! No ink stained shirts for those guys.

    I was a sea on a destroyer when the launch occurred but was back on shore and able to see the one large step for mankind on B&W TV in Japan.

    And in May 1961, I watched the first Mercury flight (Alan Shepard, Freedom 7, 15 minute sub-orbital flight) on a B&W TV when I was in the 6th grade.

  29. Roger Sack | July 17, 2019 at 6:06 pm |

    I watched it with my wife and some friends in the DC suburbs. At the time I worked
    at the State Dept and dressed the polar opposite of the NASA types shown: Paul Stuart,
    Chipp and J Press. I still more or less dress that way but with side vents for the past few
    decades. My wife, a Seven Sister grad, was pursuing her doctorate. Never very preppy,
    she opted for an elegant style more in keeping with her NYC roots. A month later we
    were both at Woodstock, Go figure.

  30. Vern Trotter | July 17, 2019 at 9:06 pm |

    The night of the actual walk everyone stayed up to watch until the wee hours, most on black & white TV. Before bed, I walked my dog in Jacksonville NC and looked up at the moon as I had thousands of times before. It was a full moon. It looked the same but it was different. Hard to explain. We were there!

  31. Vern Trotter | July 17, 2019 at 9:38 pm |

    The majority of these NASA men were pilots. Pilots wear short sleeve dress shirts so their sleeves do not catch on one of the many levers in the cockpit. All have military haircuts. Likely most of these guys had been a military pilot as the military draft was still active; soon would be ended by Nixon.

    Perhaps they are also happy for Mr. Gorsky, Neil Armstrong’s boyhood neighbor.

    And why, on this happy event, would anyone want to mention a Kennedy?

  32. john carlos | July 17, 2019 at 10:50 pm |

    Vern Trotter, I was 19 and in Dallas for a summer frat rush party that weekend. My bad.

  33. john carlos | July 17, 2019 at 10:59 pm |

    I thought the Kennedy reference was in keeping with this trad group.

  34. Boop McSnoot | July 17, 2019 at 11:39 pm |

    Basic history – Kennedy accelerated the space race to the moon that resulted in Apollo 11, so it seems fitting to mention him.

    https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/jfk-in-history/space-program

  35. Boston Trad | July 17, 2019 at 11:51 pm |

    Give some people a chance to participate in JFK-bashing and they’ll drool at the possibility.

  36. The space program yielded a ton of breakthroughs, such as:

    – Miniaturization of computer components to make laptops and smartphone possible
    – Infrared ear thermometers
    – Ventricular assist device
    – LASIK eye surgery
    – Artificial limbs
    – LED in medical therapies
    – Aircraft anti icing
    – Video stabilization
    – Earthquake shock absorbers for buildings
    – Baby food
    – Solar energy cells

    It was way more than a contest with the Soviets. I’d say we got a good return on investment.

  37. Karl Selvin | July 18, 2019 at 2:52 am |

    @Ari,
    The space program didn’t bring us:
    Buttondown collars
    Oxford cloth
    Chinos
    Repp ties
    Weejuns
    Argyle socks

  38. Was 16 at the time of the moon landing. Can’t say I was overly enthusiastic about it. More concerned about the possibility of being drafted and sent to Vietnam. Was drafted at age 19, but somehow, escaped Vietnam and overseas service.

    Mac’s right. Anyone disagreeing with the Left is racist today. OCBD’s and khaki’s are racist. Blazers are racist, etc.

  39. I don’t doubt there have been some benefits. The NASA budget comprises a rather small portion of our budget, so I’m not ‘that’ concerned.

    My first two questions were directed at the moon landing in particular, not space exploration generally. As is the case with every massive federally funded program, it’s impossible to know how efficient (return on investment) it really is.

  40. Boop McSnoot | July 18, 2019 at 9:39 am |

    Wriggles – “Mac’s right. Anyone disagreeing with the Left is racist today. OCBD’s and khaki’s are racist. Blazers are racist, etc.” That’s not true. No one is saying that. I’m on the left – you’re welcome to disagree with me, though I might still persist in thinking I’m right, or try to persuade you otherwise. On the other hand, if you say something racist, then yes, you’re being racist. America has refused to actually engage with and process its history of race relations – now calling someone racist, even when they are obviously being one, is somehow deemed worse than the actual racism itself.

    A case in point – Republicans are free to disagree with the policies of someone like AOC – in fact, it’s almost inevitable they will. That’s fine. She might still argue with them and think she has the better policies – again, this is inevitable and the same would happen in the case of a conservative lawmaker. No one is saying they don’t have the right to disagree at all, that would be foolish. But to not attack her policies, but rather to attack her and three other lawmakers purely on the basis of skin color and real or perceived heritage, is racist. They’re very different circumstances. To tell someone who was born in the United States to “go back” to the country you assume they come from because of their skin color, is racist. To tell them that while NOT saying it about white Democrats who actually were born outside the United States and also have attackable policies is blatantly racist, because it reveals it isn’t about policy at all – it’s about color. That’s racist.

    Blazers and OCBDs are not racist, that’s – in the words of our esteemed president – “fake news” put out to make you feel outraged and like a victim of Leftist oppression when really, no one on the left cares. Plenty of liberals – lawmakers and just people – wear trad style, or OCBDs and blazers. If you think they are racist, or anyone worth paying attention to thinks they are, you can head over to Styleforum and ask An Acute Style his opinion on the matter. I expect he’ll laugh you out of town.

  41. MacMcConnell | July 18, 2019 at 10:29 am |

    whiskeyden
    You may be correct.

  42. MacMcConnell | July 18, 2019 at 11:03 am |

    SE
    “As is the case with every massive federally funded program, it’s impossible to know how efficient (return on investment) it really is.”

    Or the unintended consequences.

  43. How do the comments to a post about a non-policial achievement by our Country a half-century ago include references to racism and who are percieved to be racists today?

    Anyway, about the moon landing, my family was still living in the small, then bucolic, Town of Bloomsburg, PA, during the summer of 1969 when that amazing feat occurred. Aside from that scientific and aviation achievement, I recall 1969 as the final year before the mood seemingly changed from peace and love to four dead in Ohio. When the Kent State killing of students took place the following spring, May 4, 1970, I sensed that things were different. I had joined the Boy Scouts of America in early 1970 and was undoubtedly not a Hippy at that time. However, the Kent State shootings jolted me into questioning the government and the War.

    There was some great music that sprang from those times, especially 1969. Now referred to as “classic rock” such classics as Proud Mary, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Honky Tonk Women, Fortunate Son, Green River, Whipping Post, Aquarius / Let The Sun Shine In, and many more.

    Back to the subject of the lunar landing 50 years ago this coming Saturday. My late father at that time worked for a company named U.S. Radium Corporation. He managed a department at U.S. radium and was with the company when the landing took place. U.S. Radium manufactured illuminated watches, instrument dials, clock dials, smoke detectors, exit signs, glowing deck markers for private industry and the U.S. government, and other products containing radioactive materials. By the mid-1960s, U.S. Radium probably had the most highly productive watch dial manufacturing line in the world. At the same time, U.S. Radium worked in tandem with Grumman Aircraft on cockpit lighting for the L.E.M. (Lunar Excursion Module). This lighting system utilized radioactive gas-activated light sources to light instrument panels. Thus wiring, light bulbs, and batteries were not needed to illuminate instrument panels. The L.E.M. eventually carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969.

    The moon landing was a milestone for me, and even for a small-town boy not old enough to be drafted yet, 1969 was generally memorable. Today U.S. Radium in Bloomsburg is a Superfund Site, and the Hippies are mostly old and gray. Perhaps some are considering a return in time with a visit to reenactment Woodstock. Mostly, however, what remains of those bygone days are just memories (for those who did not live them under a drug-induced stupor), a few archived photos, and classic rock. Glad I can still listen to the music which brings back a lot of memories – mostly pleasant – from then. And, happy to say I never wore a tie-died shirt, bell-bottom blue jeans or love beads.

    Fugit, BC

  44. Aguynamedme | July 18, 2019 at 12:52 pm |

    “Time, effort, and money wasted in a pissing contest with the Reds.
    In the end, we pissed farther than the Commies.”

    Only a very small mind would think that. I guess the sistine chapel is a just a waste of some paint on the ceiling by some ‘dead white guy’.

    Civlization declines when it’s overclass become effeminate cynics.

  45. Aguynamedme | July 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm |

    “On the other hand, if you say something racist, then yes, you’re being racist.”

    This reminds me of the inquisitor who said, in effect “His blasphemous statements are proof of his heresy’

  46. Boop,

    Would you agree that the “squad” would do well to present themselves as simply American rather than hyphenated muslim, Hispanic and African? Seems to me, and I think to most honest people, that their allegiance lies with someone else.

    Cheers

    Will

  47. The majority of these NASA men were pilots… All have military haircuts. Likely most of these guys had been a military pilot as the military draft was still active.”

    The draft had absolutely nothing to do with this.

    These were professional career officers in grades O5 and O6 while serving in NASA, many of whom returned to post-astronaut military duties and rose to flag ranks (generals and admirals).

    All of the Mercury astronauts were career USAF, USN or USMC fighter pilots and test pilots; most, if not all, had engineering degrees.

    All of the Apollo astronauts who went on the moon missions were also career military officers and fighter/test pilots with one exception, a PhD geologist, on the last moon mission (Apollo 17).

    Several astronauts were decorated Korean War combat pilots. Before becoming a Naval aviator Alan Shepard saw WWII combat as a destroyer officer. All were highly patriotic.

    While many of the Space Shuttle astronauts were non-pilot, civilian “mission specialists” all of the Shuttle command pilots were career military pilots because the position required 1,000 hours of jet aircraft command pilots experience before entering the shuttle program.

  48. Boop McSnoot | July 18, 2019 at 4:58 pm |

    Will – I don’t know I bother responding to you, but in an ideal world, yes, I would love to see all Americans be able to just be Americans, without needing to hold on to Asian American, African American, Muslim American, etc. That they do speaks to two issues in our society – 1) that these Americans are often placed in those boxes by others (sociologists, census takers, etc.) from some need to differentiate them from “just Americans,” which is misguided in my view, and 2) that these Americans feel that if they let go of the Asian/African/Muslim etc., the simple designator “American” will not have room for those aspects of their heritage and person. They may be mistaken about that, but the fact that they feel that way means there is an underlying issue which both sides must address to move forward.

    It’s worth pointing out that your question about allegiance, which I think is incredibly silly, was also asked of John F. Kennedy when he ran for president as an Irish American (not simply an American). My girlfriend is Filipino American, and she feels that she needs to insist on it, because simply calling herself “American” would erase an important part of who she is. So again, to recap, I also wish that these terms were not necessary. But that at least two groups believe they are – people from those traditions, and those who seek to classify them – means that there is a deeper issue at hand. It isn’t so simple as saying, “She doesn’t want to be a real American, so she calls herself African American.” That just isn’t logical. These four lawmakers didn’t invent these terms – they are the categories available to them. I would argue that all four are indeed trying to be just Americans, without any qualifiers, and that they would feel including their heritage in that is part of that process. It is people like you who see that heritage and assume it is inherently anti-American that are the problem.

    It really is interesting to me how someone always drags politics into these threads – and if not the comments, then into the posts above them. And when a liberal perspective is voiced, people seem to come out of the woodwork to complain that “everything/everyone is racist now,” “You can’t say anything anymore,” etc. It really speaks to the demographic that this site has attracted over time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe Christian bears a lot of responsibility for the toxic comments excusing and defending bigoted behavior that appear repeatedly on this site. But I know he’ll just tell me to do pullups and clean my room in response, and keep working on his high and mighty Trad Man project, which I’m sure will tell me how to find God, lose weight, start smoking, and let go of all this negativity I have that keeps me from seeing how racism and bigotry aren’t my problem, I just need to be the best self I can be and not worry about the rest.

  49. You have a girl friend?

    Will

  50. sacksuit, Thanks for making me laugh. Almost spit a mouthfull of beer onto the keyboard.
    Cheers, BC

  51. Boop McSnoot | July 18, 2019 at 5:42 pm |

    Will – Come on. What are you, twelve? I already know you think reading is for nerds, but why bother asking a fairly good question if you aren’t even going to try to engage with the answer? Unless, of course, you don’t care what the answer says, and were just question-begging to accomplish… what, exactly? Just to feel smug because you didn’t listen when someone answered a question you asked? Good one.

  52. Boop McSnoot | July 18, 2019 at 6:31 pm |

    Will – Omar today: “What I’m going to be busy doing is uplifting people, and making sure they understand: Here in this country we are all Americans, we are all welcome.” My point exactly. It’s you who are insisting on hyphens.

  53. Vern Trotter | July 19, 2019 at 11:06 am |

    The draft DID have a BIG effect on how many young men enlisted to become officers, many as pilots if their eyesight were good enough; instead of waiting to be drafted, that is. Take a look today. Also we had shorter haircuts because of the zeitgeist created.

    No JFK bashing here ever. Now, Teddy, that is a different story. This being the 50 year death day anniversary (yesterday) of Mary Jo Kopechne, all intelligent comment is fair.

  54. Boop

    I identifying as Japanese woman today so you owe me aporogy.

    Will

  55. Boop McSnoot | July 19, 2019 at 1:18 pm |

    Breaking: Racist Defends President From Accusations of Racism

  56. Boop

    I am smiling and shaking my head as I read your last post. Try and have a good weekend. I’m going sailing.

    God bless,

    Will

  57. Just Me Commenting | July 21, 2019 at 3:20 pm |

    “Breaking: Racist Defends President From Accusations of Racism”

    Of course he is racist, just look at his racist statements?
    Circular reasoning aside I am really, really curious why do people think ‘racism’ is the worst sin one can commit? Seemingly above mass murder – I mean, Mao just killed 55 million of his own people, at least he wasn’t racist!

  58. @Just Me Commenting

    Why do you use so many question marks? I’m not entirely sure if your being ironic or if you just write as you speak. Incidentally, I do not believe in the superiority or inferiority of one race over another, well except maybe the Irish. A cursory look at my comments on this site over the years would make that clear.

    Will

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