My older brother and I agree that we had a good childhood in Cross Lanes. By today’s standards we were deprived, of course. We only had three or four channels on our television and didn’t have central air conditioning until we were 11 and 13.
We would build rockets and set them up on a stand. We would light a fuse by hand and run back a ways in time to watch the launch like a big bottle rocket. The thrill of the launch was only multiplied by the chase of the rocket’s return. We held our breath while we looked for the parachute to pop out and bring the rocket slowly back to earth. Or, as happened occasionally, watching it corkscrew back down, burying itself in the clay.
For the last several months, my oldest daughter Ashlin has been building rockets through the Starbase Academy Program at John Adams Middle School. The program is funded by the Department of Defense and offered through the school system. My younger daughter, Jamison, still in elementary school, has been able to be the “mascot” for the group and help out as well. They built smaller individual rockets and launched them. Then they worked together to build a larger rocket as a team. They recently completed a successful launch of the team rocket. The result of that launch, including altitude and other telemetry information, was sent off the national Starbase program. The great news is their rocket has been accepted into the national competition. They will be headed off to DC next month for more adventure.
When I was growing up, the space program was on everyone’s mind. The Apollo Missions were ending, but we had Skylab and the Mir Space Station along with the coming of the space shuttle to fire imaginations. Everyone wanted to be an astronaut and the possibility of space exploration got everyone excited about technology and the future. Back then, it seemed like technology fields were heavily dominated by men. As the father of two young girls, I’m excited to see that changing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go buy a rocket….