Category Archives: Space History

Another Of The Seven Gone?

I’m hearing rumors that Wally Schirra died last night.

[Update a couple minutes later]

OK, apparently Keith heard it on CNN as well.

So, Grissom, Slayton, Schirra, Shepard are gone. Besides Glenn, who’s still with us?

[googling]

OK, Cooper is dead, so it’s just Glenn and Carpenter. They could hold a reunion in a phone booth. And I see that Wikipedia has already updated the Mercury 7 page to reflect Schirra’s passing.

[Update at 12:30 PM EDT]

Here’s the obit from CNN.

Hadn’t thought about that, but it’s true, he was the only astronaut to fly Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

Chinese Space Riddle

Rand, Jeff and Dwayne are treating a 40-year delayed entry into the “US-Soviet space race” (or perhaps the Chinese would prefer “space era”) as newsworthy. For its military threat or for its ability to shed light on perceptions and the press. I think the interesting story that no one is telling is why the Chinese mimic the dead end space programs of the US and the USSR. It’s some kind of misguided nostalgia or timewarped hero worship. It is captured well by Ursula Le Guin’s The Telling. What does China think it will get out of a space program other than some more confidence from its neighbors that its missiles can hit their targets? Spinoffs? National prestige? This kind of grand challenge from yesteryear is weird nostalgia like the Space Cowboys movie. (I hinted at this last year, but no one seemed to pick up on it.)

The trick is to harness this misguided lunacy to use it to improve international relations and lower the cost of space access.

I wonder if the same people who discount SpaceShipOne’s and Falcon’s cheap space access are playing up China’s old tired expensive space access as a worrisome game changer. Maybe it’s the same reason we dissed China’s currency policy–to get them to keep doing it to waste their money.