[nfbmi-talk] Heros

Marcus Simmons MarcusSimmons at comcast.net
Wed Feb 15 08:12:47 CST 2012


Great story. Each one of us should be inspired.
Changing what it means to be blind,
Marcus Simmons, vice-president,
Western-Wayne chapter
28179 Brentwood
Southfield, MI 48076-3069
Marcus.Simmons at interbizusa.com
(248) 552-8928
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Fred Wurtzel" <f.wurtzel at att.net>
To: "'NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List'" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>; 
<mriccobono at nfb.org>
Cc: "'George Wurtzel'" <gmwurtzel at gmail.com>; "jan ewing" 
<skewing at juno.com>; <emailmee at comcast.net>; <mikeeellis at comcast.net>
Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 9:43 PM
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Heros


> Hello,
>
>
>
> I'm not sure how many of our Michigan people are aware that last week Mark
> Riccobono flew in the NASA airplane that simulates weightlessness.  Mark
> experienced various levels of weightlessness during his time in the air.
> Taking this flight is training for people who may someday go into space. 
> As
> you all do know, Mark drove our Blind Driver Challenge car last year in
> Daytona.  As the article Below says hero is an elastic term, but to me, 
> mark
> sure sets a high bar for all of us and shows bravery and determination as 
> he
> helps all of us achieve first-class citizenship.  Someone has said that 
> the
> first blind astronaut has been born.  Not sure who it is, yet, but Mark is
> paving that person's way.  Enjoy the article below and remember any of us
> can be a hero at any moment.
>
>
>
> Warmest Regards,
>
>
>
> Fred
>
>
>
> Science and Health News of the Times, the BBC, and the Washington Post
>
> _next article
>
> Times Science and Health news for the week of Tuesday 2/14/2012
>
> 50 Years Later, Celebrating John Glenn's Feat
>
> By [7]JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
>
> In the winter of 1962, the nation needed a hero.
>
> Americans had yet to recover from the Soviet Union's launching of the
>
> first spacecraft, Sputnik, in October 1957 -- a rude jolt to our
>
> confidence as world leaders in all things technological. The space race
>
> was on.
>
> Soon after he took office in 1961, President John F. Kennedy had thrown
>
> down the challenge to send men to the Moon by the end of the decade.
>
> But the Russians still set the pace, boastfully. They launched a dog
>
> into orbit, then the first man, Yuri A. Gagarin, and another, Gherman
>
> S. Titov.
>
> The United States lagged, managing only two 15-minute [8]suborbital
>
> astronaut flights -- only five minutes of weightlessness each time.
>
> Then, on Feb. 20, 1962 -- 50 years ago next Monday -- a Marine Corps
>
> fighter pilot from small-town America stepped forward in response to
>
> the country's need. The astronaut was [9]John Glenn, whom the author
>
> Tom Wolfe has called "the last true national hero America has ever
>
> had."
>
> Squeezed into the cockpit of a [10]Mercury spacecraft called Friendship
>
> 7, launched by an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., Mr. Glenn
>
> circled the [11]Earth three times, becoming the first American to orbit
>
> the planet. Perhaps no other spaceflight -- all 4 hours, 55 minutes and
>
> 23 seconds of it -- has been followed by so many with such paralyzing
>
> apprehension.
>
> Mr. Glenn saw three sunsets and sunrises that Tuesday, from a maximum
>
> altitude of 162 miles. At each sunrise, an explosion of what looked
>
> like fireflies appeared outside the window, mystifying him. Then came a
>
> signal of a suspected problem that had ground controllers bracing for
>
> an uncertain, possibly catastrophic re-entry into the atmosphere.
>
> The ending was a happy one. A collective sigh of relief was heard
>
> across the land. The president rushed off to Cape Canaveral to hail the
>
> returning hero. Bands played. Ticker tape streamed from the high
>
> windows of Broadway. People cried. Never mind that a Soviet cosmonaut
>
> had already spent 25 hours in orbit. As Mr. Wolfe has written, "John
>
> Glenn made us whole again!"
>
> Now, at 90, Mr. Glenn was reminded in one of two lengthy interviews
>
> that the author of "The Right Stuff" had judged him the country's last
>
> true hero. His response was a kind of dismissive aw shucks. "Hero" is
>
> an elastic word, after all, stretchable to fit a favorite ballplayer or
>
> a great conqueror in war or discovery -- almost anyone admirable.
>
> "I don't think of myself that way," Mr. Glenn said. "I get up each day
>
> and have the same problems others have at my age. As far as trying to
>
> analyze all the attention I received, I will leave that to others."
>
> (For his part, Mr. Wolfe stood by his characterization, saying a
>
> national hero was someone seen as "a great protector" of the people.
>
> "He really wasn't their protector, but that's what people felt and
>
> thought," he said of Mr. Glenn in an interview last week. "He made them
>
> cry, and this made him a hero.")
>
> On Saturday, Mr. Glenn will again get a[12] hero's welcome at Cape
>
> Canaveral for a reunion with the dwindling Mercury space team, those
>
> remaining managers, engineers and technicians who sent the first
>
> Americans into space. On Monday and Tuesday, he will be honored with a
>
> dinner and a spaceflight forum at Ohio State University, home of the
>
> John Glenn School of Public Affairs.
>
> Mr. Glenn keeps an office at the school, holds seminars with students
>
> and is close to the archive of papers from his careers as an astronaut
>
> and, later, a four-term United States senator from Ohio and a candidate
>
> in the 1984 Democratic presidential primaries. It is quite an archive:
>
> about 1,800 boxes of materials. "I was a pack rat," he said.
>
> He and his wife, Anna (he calls her Annie), divide their time between a
>
> house in a suburb of Washington and a condominium in Columbus. She was
>
> his childhood sweetheart, and their marriage has stood the test of
>
> almost 69 years of devotion in the turbulence of spaceflight and
>
> politics. From the time they came to public attention, each has seemed
>
> the other's center of gravity.
>
> Through years of therapy, Mr. Glenn said, Annie has overcome the severe
>
> stammer that had made her ill at ease at public appearances. "She can
>
> give speeches now," he said, and she likes talking to students of
>
> speech pathology. Both have had knee-replacement surgery.
>
> Their knees had made it hard for them, especially Annie, to climb on
>
> the wing and into the cabin of their twin-engine Beechcraft Baron. They
>
> used to fly it on vacations and back and forth to Washington, sometimes
>
> logging as many as 160 airborne hours a year. Last month, as a
>
> concession to their aging knees, the Glenns sold their airplane, but
>
> Mr. Glenn was pleased to say he still has a valid pilot's license.
>
> The other honored guest at the anniversary events in Cape Canaveral
>
> will be M. Scott Carpenter, the Mercury astronaut who was Mr. Glenn's
>
> backup and radio link, called capcom, in the launching blockhouse that
>
> day of flight. The two are the only surviving members of what were
>
> known as the Mercury Seven. [13]Virgil I. Grissom died in 1967 in an
>
> Apollo spacecraft fire during a launching-pad test. [14]Donald K.
>
> Slayton died of cancer in 1993. [15]Alan B. Shepard Jr. died of
>
> leukemia in 1998. [16]L. Gordon Cooper Jr. died of natural causes in
>
> 2004. [17]Walter M. Schirra Jr. died of a heart attack in 2007.
>
> In 1998, his last year in the Senate, the first American to orbit Earth
>
> became, at 77, the oldest person to travel in space. Mr. Glenn felt he
>
> still had enough of the right stuff. He had continued to pilot his own
>
> airplane and had kept in shape -- "attitude and exercise," he said,
>
> "that's what keeps you going" -- and he persuaded [18]NASA to let him
>
> fly on the [19]space shuttle Discovery and conduct tests on the
>
> physiological effects of nine days of weightlessness on older people.
>
> In the recent interviews, Mr. Glenn said, "I am not at all happy with
>
> some of the directions the space program is going, in particular
>
> retiring the space shuttles before we have a new heavy-lift launching
>
> system in place."
>
> Mr. Glenn said he was concerned that since the final shuttle flight
>
> last July, the United States must depend on the Russian [20]Soyuz space
>
> vehicles for ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space
>
> Station, assembled in orbit at a cost well over $100 billion, mainly
>
> from American taxpayers. The Soyuz is limited to three passengers and
>
> about 125 pounds of gear, hardly sufficient for hauling replacement
>
> parts for the space station.
>
> "If the Russians had a hiccup with Soyuz, our manned space program
>
> would be ended, maybe for years," Mr. Glenn said.
>
> In a meeting with President Obama two years ago, Mr. Glenn made his
>
> case for continuing shuttle flights and full space station operations
>
> for several more years, contrary to President George W. Bush's policy
>
> that a new generation of boosters and spacecraft would be developed
>
> with the savings from the cancellation of shuttle operations. "The
>
> president didn't disagree with any of my arguments," he recalled. "He
>
> said we just don't have the money."
>
> As Mr. Glenn settled into recollections of that February day in 1962,
>
> the interview glided into easy conversation over shared memories. Ten
>
> times over almost a month the launching was scheduled, only to be
>
> scrubbed because of poor weather or mechanical glitches. "On again, off
>
> again," Mr. Glenn said. "I actually suited up four times, and two times
>
> was up on top of the Atlas, strapped into Friendship 7, ready to go."
>
> Reporters from all over the world grew restive, desperate for anything
>
> to write about. After one cancellation, Mercury information officers
>
> begged Mr. Glenn to give them something to tell the journalists. When
>
> he got off the booster, he went running on the beach and happened to
>
> see where sea turtles had buried their eggs. This was duly reported,
>
> and one writer remarked that it was understood the astronaut had a good
>
> recipe for turtle egg soup.
>
> "Well, that got me into a whole lot of trouble with environmentalists,"
>
> Mr. Glenn recalled. "I got mail calling me everything but a good guy,
>
> and should be replaced."
>
> The waiting got so tiresome for the press corps that when a waitress at
>
> one of the watering holes was shot dead by her boyfriend around
>
> midnight, some reporters rushed to file the story. A London tabloid
>
> declared it "the first successful shot here in weeks."
>
> Mr. Glenn said he had not heard that tale before.
>
> At last, on the 11th attempt, with his backup, Mr. Carpenter, bidding
>
> "Godspeed, John Glenn," Friendship 7 lifted off for its three orbits of
>
> Earth. Christopher C. Kraft Jr., the flight director, remembers,
>
> "Nothing about John Glenn's flight was easy."
>
> At first sunrise, Mr. Glenn saw a swarm of greenish-yellow lights
>
> outside the craft, reminding him of fireflies. He saw them again at the
>
> other sunrises. "No one had anticipated this, and it was fascinating,"
>
> he said. "Turns out these were tiny moisture particles vented from the
>
> heat-exchange system, but I don't know if we have ever explained their
>
> particular colors."
>
> Near the end of the first orbit, trouble with the automatic control
>
> system forced Mr. Glenn to take manual control for much of the
>
> remaining orbits. He felt he was truly the pilot, not a passenger on
>
> autopilot. Not "Spam in a can," in the minds of the veteran test pilots
>
> unimpressed by these new astronauts.
>
> Then a signal sent to the ground warned of a potentially more serious
>
> problem. It indicated that the craft had a loose heat shield. Flight
>
> controllers suspected it was a spurious signal, but could not be sure.
>
> They decided not to jettison the retro rockets after they braked the
>
> capsule for its descent. The retro-pack should keep the heat shield in
>
> place and prevent serious damage to the capsule.
>
> "Glancing out the window during re-entry," Mr. Glenn recalled, "I was
>
> seeing big chunks of something coming off. It was the retro-pack, not
>
> the heat shield, thank goodness. It had been a false alarm. If you go
>
> to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, you can see the burn
>
> patterns on Friendship 7."
>
> In the epilogue to "The Right Stuff," his best seller on the original
>
> seven astronauts, Mr. Wolfe wrote that the day of Glenn the hero "when
>
> an astronaut could parade up Broadway while traffic policemen wept in
>
> the intersections," was no more. An era, he continues, "had come, and
>
> it had gone, perhaps never to be relived."
>
> But in a time short of heroes, John Glenn keeps alive the memory..
>
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