Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy 85th birthday, Alan Shepard

Today would have been Alan Shepard's 85th birthday. I never got to meet the man, but I certainly remember watching his launch aboard Freedom 7 in May 1961. It's among my earliest memories. We were living on "The Farm" near Williamsburg, Virginia. I recall being called in to the TV room just before he blasted off. Watching that pencil-thin Redstone rocket lift off made quite an impression on me. Looking back now at films of the launch, it certainly paled in comparison to the smoke and fury of Apollo and Shuttle launches. But at the time, it was amazing to think that there was really a man on that rocket.

Shepard didn't fly again until he commanded Apollo 14 in 1971, as the oldest astronaut in the US program. He died of leukemia in July 1998.

Happy birthday, Old Man!

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