Remembering Days Gone By, Part 3: The Night Sky and a Satellite

I grew up in what was then called “The Space Age”. There was lots of science to fascinate a young mind in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

We had the X-plane program, and the X-15 was the shining star of the moment. The X-15 was the coolest thing from any aspect: it was the very first manned hypersonic flight vehicle, it eventually reached record altitudes of nearly 355,000 feet – yes, that’s SPACE! – and it was the fastest thing ever, hitting speeds of 6-1/3 Mach. Many of the X-15’s records still stand.

There was lots of try-and-fail with satellite launches, and eventually we got TIROS I up as a weather satellite, and meanwhile there was the hit-and-miss Discoverer Program, and the miss-and-hit MIDAS program. As a kid living in a rural area of the Pacific Northwest and who had patient and indulgent parents, I got to go outside a lot at night and just lie there, looking up at the stars.

And everything was solid and static, except for the occasional meteor flash overhead. “oooo… a shooting star!”

Until one night, there was a star that … MOVED! A shot of adrenalin surged hotly through me as I realized IT WAS A SATELLITE!

How INCREDIBLY cool!! I raced in to get my Dad, who came out to marvel with me. “Well, how about that.”

I remember waving, as if somehow the people running the satellite could see me doing that.

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Looking back, it might have been one of the Discoverer satellites, but hey, who knows for sure.

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But still, every night there’s a good view of the stars, I still look for satellites, and marvel at this wonder of the night sky which God allows us to behold.

And I still marvel whenever I see a satellite  pass.

And if it’s the ISS, I run to get my wife.

“Hey guys! Hope you can see us waving!”

 

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