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Countdown to the Moon

1582 – Ayaz

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Countdown to the Moon

1583 – Nathan

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Countdown to the Moon

1584 – Sadaat

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Countdown to the Moon

1585- Robert

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Countdown to the Moon

1586 – Ted

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Countdown to the Moon

1587 – Bart

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Countdown to the Moon

1588 – Pete

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Countdown to the Moon

1589 – Giuliana

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Countdown to the Moon

1590 – Debbie

Debbie is my English and Spanish teacher from Orangefield High School. She wanted to do the interview view a text chat. I recruited my wife to help record a video based on that chat.

Nathan:
Thank you for helping with my project. Could you say a little about yourself?

Debbie:
I am a retired English teacher. I have 32 years experience in the classroom; 30 of them were at Orangefield High. I’m married with two grown sons and a dog. I love to scrapbook and read.

Nathan:
Did you know that NASA was planning to send astronauts to the surface of the moon in 2024?

Debbie:
Yes. My husband and I have talked about it. He follows the progress much more than I do, I have to admit.

Nathan:
I have conducted 250 interviews since I started this project in December 2019. And of those I think only about 40-50 of them knew that we were planning to go back to the moon.
One of them even asked “Why is NASA keeping it a secret?”
and some even thought that the whole space program had been shutdown. And others that thought astronauts were already going to the moon.

Debbie:
We both have always been supportive of the space program and were appalled when it was put on the back burner. Loren reads a lot of different science magazines and journals and gets info that way. If I get started on the collective IQ of the general public–we don’t want to go there. I’m not at all surprised at any answers you have received.

Nathan:
Most of the people are supportive when they find out. But there have been a few that have been against it. The usual “Why are we spending money on space when we should be solving problem XYZ?” And usually when probing into that, it really is a false choice. Space usually does not keep XYZ from getting solved. And XYZ could be solved simultaneously.
But there have been a few other reasons that people have been against it. One person said, “Why do we want to mess up the moon like we messed up the earth?”
And others have expressed concerns about “only a select group will go.. probably the rich… how can we make the benefits of space open to all”…

Debbie:
Correct me if I am wrong, but I have believed all my adult life that the research and technology from the space program has benefited XYZ in a multitude of ways, from medical to military and things in between. Not just Tang. We had a librarian years ago who was against the program and actually said that the freeze dried orange juice was the pinnacle of its social contributions.

Nathan:
Many people have expressed that same idea. That spending money on space helps us here on earth. And I think the Apollo program led to many improvements in communication, computers, material science, and the like.
But I think largely that was a result of us doing it the first time and trying to figure it out.
There may have been many small discoveries from human space flight over the past 40 years, but I’m not capable of pointing to any big discoveries that have really improved life down here.
But I think a large problem is that the programs are so costly that failure must be avoided, which means that it is better to stick with tried and proven technologies. Which seems to be the exact opposite of actually having technological innovations…
But I think we are starting to see a change here… With NASA changing the way they do space.
Instead of building a replacement for the space shuttle, they had private companies create their own solutions, and compete for it. And this lead to SpaceX and Orbital ATK being paid a fixed price per pound of materials delivered to the space station.
And the commercial Crew program led to SpaceX and Boeing creating their own transport that NASA just pays per astronaut to send up. Which SpaceX and Boeing are encouraged to find additional customers. (SpaceX has two other customers: Axiom Aerospace and Space Adventures to send private citizens to space) Tom Cruise is working Axiom to film a movie on the international space station, which might happen in a few years.
And the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program has 15 companies that compete on delivering experiments and instruments to the moon. NASA has them compete for 2 work orders each year. Summer 2021 Astrobotics (based in Pittsburgh) and Intuitive Machines (based in Houston) will each land a probe on the moon. Astrobotic is also doing a promotion with DHL, the package delivery firm, to deliver things for everyday people on the moon. For about $450 you can send something the size of a quarter to the moon.
And I think as we push further out and start studying the moon and learn to work in that environment and learn to do mining and manufacturing in a near vacuum in 1/7 the gravity of earth with very different thermal and radiation environment that we will be pushed to rethink and reimagine how to do things that could lead to improvements.

Debbie:
Well, like I said, it may have always been an impression of mine, or it may have come through many discussions with Loren, who is a science teacher. The contributions probably have come in the form of more sophisticated technology and tools. I don’t know. As to the program now, private investment is exactly what is needed. It takes people who are truly interested and care to invest themselves and their money to achieve success. This is not a job for politicians. As an English teacher, I’m going to get off topic for just a second. Have you ever read any of Robert Heinlein’s work

Nathan:
Absolutely
“A Door into Summer” was probably the first Science Fiction book I read.
I always dreamed of being able to automate things like the main character in that book.
But I’ve read many of his other books “stranger in a strange land”, “The day after tomorrow”, “Double Star”, “Have Space Suit, will travel” and the like
I’ve actually meet the 3 people that are the trustees of the Heinlein Trust…
I’m a big fan of Heinlein…
(Now look who is going off topic 🙂 )

Debbie:
When we were watching the launch on television in May(?) I told Loren that the Harriman Trust had come true in real life. Yes, that is what it will take. Re: Stranger–I taught the book in my dual credit senior English class. They loved it. Most did😁

Nathan:
“The Man Who Sold the Moon”
My favorite part of Stranger in a Strange land is how it takes everyday things that we take for granted and re-examines them.
So much of our life is based on convention. “This is just how it is done” and the rhyme and reason has been lost (ok, maybe some of the rhyme remains, but there is no question about the missing reason) 🙂

Debbie:
It’s been over forty years since I have read all those stories. This makes me want to go over them again. I’ve lived in a world of fiction all my life by studying and teaching, but I believe good fiction writers are the best students of mankind. Sci-fi writers are almost like prophets. In reality, we should be much farther along in our off-world travels than we are here in 2020. Or am I dreaming?

Nathan:
That is a good point. I think the advantages of Sci-fi is that everything can be changed. All norms can be challenged
I discovered a sci-fi author a few years ago that I had never heard of
Frederik Pohl
And he was extremely prolific and I found his writing to be very good.
And I was amazed that somehow I had never heard of him… I think there are many more that I have yet to discover.

Debbie:
I recognize the name, but I haven’t read any of his work.

Nathan:
Do you remember the first time that we landed on the moon?

Debbie:
Absolutely. Where I was and who was there.😁

Nathan:
What was it like? What did you think of it then? And how did your views of it change over the next 50 years?

Debbie:
I was 14 and we were on vacation. Several family members were gathered in my uncle’s living room, eyes glued to the television. It was so exciting, to me at least. I clearly remember that first step and the words, as they happened, not from the reels we’ve seen over and over. Some things are just burned into your brain. My real view, if you want to call it that, is that we’ve done wrong by allowing it to languish. Hopefully the rebirth is here to stay.

Nathan:
I understand that there was the feeling that “We sent people to the moon… we can do anything”… Was that the feeling of the time? That we could actually do amazing things?

Debbie:
Remember I was fourteen, so I can’t attest to that as accurately as an adult of the time could, but I do remember that quote. A major roadblock was the Vietnam war, I imagine. That was on the evening news that my dad watched every night while I did my homework. I don’t remember much about subsequent moon missions, even Apollo 13.

Nathan:
I have the impression that when astronauts land on the moon in 2024, that there may still be a large number of people (probably a vast majority) that might not know. What do you think?

Debbie:
Do you mean in America or worldwide?

Nathan:
both.. I actually think that people worldwide might be more aware than Americans

Debbie:
Yup. American television viewers spend an inordinate amount of time watching all those pseudo reality shows whose titles choke the guide if my Direct TV. I suppose people watch them for those shows to stay in business. Collective IQ. Reading newspapers either online or in print? Hmn.

Nathan:
When you think of the future of humanity, say looking out 500 years, what do you see?
Especially when you think about where we are. Are we still around? Or is humanity still primarily on earth making little trips to take selfies and pick up a few souvenirs around the solar system? Or have we really become “space faring” with human living, working, and thriving throughout the solar system?

Debbie:
That is a complicated vision. I love your analogy–space touring selfies. As a species, man has traveled great distances, conquered overwhelming odds, and the strongest have survived. That has taken thousands of years, though. Granted, technology advances at almost geometric proportions compared to caveman days, so 500 years may be enough time to get a lot accomplished. I think we will eventually get off-world and make viable lives in other places. Just betwixt me and you, the idea of this planet being a colonized one isn’t all that far-fetched to me.

Nathan:
I totally agree. It could be our very distant ancestors were refugees and some of the stories that have been handed down were from children who lost the technology and perspective of their parents…

Debbie:
Far-fetched. I can almost write correctly

Nathan:
It is hard to believe that the universe being as big as it is, with a trillion, trillion stars, almost all of which with planets… Hard to believe that we are the only ones.

Debbie:
I have never believed that we’re alone. It’s just not logical from either a creationist or Big Bang perspective. I’m fascinated with all the new archeological discoveries being made with lidar and such.

Nathan:
I am not familiar with them. What am I missing?
I mean, what are some of the most interesting architectural discoveries?

Debbie:
One of the most interesting to me is a place called Gobekli Tepi (sp?)-google it. Also, a lot of work has been done in Central America. They are finding that civilizations there are much older and larger than we’ve known. More connections are made to the worldwide pyramid population and their astronomical positioning. Of course, all that could be coincidence, but I have asked myself why pyramids to worship gods in different cultures across the globe.

Nathan:
I will have to look into it.
It is easy to think of life, technology, civilization going in an always increasing curve
But knowledge does get lost, older technology is forgotten… we are always one generation from complete ignorance.
After all, there is probably a reason there is a period called “The dark ages”

Debbie:
If earth’s people go to three different planets and successfully colonize, in a few short generations the religions, social customs, and languages will be vastly different from the original colonists. That’s why we need that word “evolution” in our lexicon.
I sound too teacherish. 😆

Nathan:
That makes sense. I often think we might be invaded by martians
but they will be our future selves
It could be very similar to how HG Wells describes it.

If it were safe and affordable would you have any interest in travelling to space?

Debbie:
No, because I’m not adventurous, but I think it would be a hell of a ride for someone who is.

Nathan:
I really appreciate your time. Were there any other topics you wanted to discuss that we did not get to?

Debbie:
I can’t think of anything. You do a wonderful job of letting me exercise my brain. Trust me, I need it. Also, thank you so much for the written word. I literally freeze when I’m talking and the word won’t come. If I write, I can see what I am saying, and it helps. My poor family is very patient with my babbling, but I don’t like to subject anyone else to it.

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Countdown to the Moon

1591 – Jason