(This blog entry was written by Frank Divers the Higher Orbits Board of Directors Chairman.)
I was fortunate to be an intern for the Boeing company beginning in 1967 and was assigned to the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) (at that time is was the largest indoor building in the world). The Saturn 5 was assembled in this building by stages and was being prepared during my internship to lift the astronaut crew into space with the goal of landing on the moon, walking on its surface and returning safely to earth. As one can imagine, there was a lot of anxiety on the ground due to the enormous amount of work and emotions were gathered under one roof with the thought of, “I’m a part of history”.
My task was serving the Boeing company as an expediter. Simply put, I was tasked to pull parts from inventory as needed and get them to the engineers working on the swing arm so the part could be installed. The swing arm was a platform of such that wrapped around the rocket stages that were being assembled. Time was always of the essence given the fact that President Kennedy had set the bar that we would land a man on the moon and return him to the U.S. during the 60’s decade. On one occasion, the astronaut crew toured the VAB to visually inspect their ride into space and meet some of the people who worked there. I was fortunate to meet them.
Sitting in a room with some of my college friends as the television broadcasted the images of Neal Armstrong stepping onto the surface of the moon and listening to what he said will be an experience I will never forget. My friends were very jealous to say the least. To have this recall and see where we are today and to see the difference in how our society views space travel and exploration, makes me proud to have lived during this time.
The Go For Launch! program would have accomplished very little to nothing had it been tried back in the 60’s or for that matter the 70’s, 80’s or even 90’s. Why? Because our youth weren’t ready for it. Michelle Lucas was inspired to create this program because the students of today can realize how important it is and thanks to the dedication and hard work of Michelle, thousands and soon tens of thousands of students are going to have the opportunity to be a part of America’s new history in the making. As the old saying goes, “there’s a time and place for everything”. I had that opportunity in the 60’s and now the opportunity becomes more real than ever for the high school students of today who are shaping the future of tomorrow!