Working in the space industry has its perks, of that there is no doubt. If you’re an engineer, working on something that will be launched, or possibly even land on another world must rank amongst the highest points in anyone’s career.
The superb documentary series “Moon Machines” which can be found online, highlights the personal stories of some of the 390,000 or so people who were involved in the Apollo program. From ladies who literally “weaved” the core rope memory for the Apollo Guidance Computer, through to the North American and Grumman engineers who built the Saturn V and Landers.
In my world, I have been very fortunate to meet with and get to become friends with many of these people too. Events we host at the Space Collective such as Cosmicon in Manchester, through to events we attend such as Spacefest in Arizona and the upcoming New Scientist Live event in London, gives us an opportunity to catch up with people like Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden, who is in Europe for a tour this autumn/fall.
In this era of modern “celebrity” culture, where every “youtuber” or blogger is a minor star (or think they are), it’s very refreshing to be able to hang out with true icons, true superstars, and ones that have no ego at all, nor need “bodyguards”
Think about it in this context.
A celebrity that is known simply for their ability to sing or act, someone who pretends to be something they’re not, someone who writes a novel or gives advice on what make up to wear, can that person really compare to those who literally put their life on the line in the greatest technical achievement in human history?
Can they really be compared to one of only 24 people to ever venture beyond the safety and comfort zone of low Earth orbit, where radiation, and 1960s (though brilliant, still 1960s) spacecraft design was all that lay between them and death?
To a man (or woman) every person I have met (bar maybe one notable exception) who have been a part of the Apollo space program, have been courteous, approachable, friendly and wonderful to know. Can that be said of “pop stars” or “actors” who regularly hit the tabloids with tales of “do you know who I am” syndrome at some night club or other.
A wise man once said that “it’s only those who have nothing to prove, who are the ones that have no ego”
Those who don’t need to put their peers down, belittle others or treat them as anything but equal. The people who worked on Apollo, literally have nothing to prove. They proved it already, they made the impossible…possible.
And so this coming week or so, when we’re sat in a hotel, sharing laughter and good stories with one of these 24 who made it to the Moon, we’ll enjoy every second of his company… for it is a rare and wonderful thing to be a part of.
We’re at the New Scientist Live event this weekend (22-25th Sept) so drop by and say hi…