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