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An Apollo Astronaut Made Me Dinner

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by Dr. Anthony Paustian © 2020  Anthony D. Paustian In March, we lost an Apollo astronaut, a beloved member of the space community, and in my own case, a personal friend––Al Worden, the Command Module Pilot for Apollo 15. To those who knew him, his passing may have come as a bit of a shock, especially in light of his outgoing personality and unlimited energy despite his advanced age.   Al and I became close later in his life. While visiting him last fall at his home in Houston, I assumed we would simply do what we always did––talk space, but also discuss family and politics, while eating out for every meal, as was our routine. This trip was different. While we did dine at restaurants, Al decided he wanted to make dinner. Despite my telling him it wasn’t necessary, he was determined, and there was no altering his trajectory once it was set.   While he prepared the lavish spread of steak, potatoes, asparagus, and dessert, I could only watch as he wanted absolutely no help. At that moment

Sample Space Like Costco

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The AI-driven, robotic ping pong player from CES 2020. Credit: Paustian by Dr. Anthony Paustian Author of  A Quarter Million Steps Chair, 2020/2021  International Space Development Conference National Space Society REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION ©2020  Anthony D. Paustian Each year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada offers a chance to see the most promising and impactful technologies on the horizon and look back at past shows to see the trajectories technology has followed. It is at once inspiring and overwhelming.  When I attended CES in 2000, many of the technologies we take for granted today—flash drives, Internet gaming, Bluetooth wireless technology, smartphones, and even cell phones with built-in cameras–– didn’t exist. Many products on display now incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), automation, and robotics. This year’s line-up included voice-activated automatic frying pans, “bionic”

Get Out of Normal!

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Gene Roddenberry - Photo Credit: Getty (Used with permission) by Dr. Anthony Paustian Author of  A Quarter Million Steps Chair, 2020  International Space Development Conference National Space Society REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION ©2020  Anthony D. Paustian In   Star Trek , Captain James T. Kirk would close his voice-over at the beginning of each episode with the phrase “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” These words inspired a generation of engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and designers—including women and people of color who took greater risks to achieve success. They also inspired some people to envision a world living in peace and striving to understand its place in the larger scope of the universe. Star Trek  was the brainchild of Gene Roddenberry. Unlike many creators of science fiction, who tend to look at the future through the lens of the present, Roddenberry imagined an entirely different universe, one where people have put their differences a

In Search of Tomorrowland

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Photo from the 1893 Columbian Exposition by Dr. Anthony Paustian Author of  A Quarter Million Steps Chair, 2020  International Space Development Conference National Space Society REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION ©2019  Anthony D. Paustian Whenever I visit Chicago, my favorite attraction is the Museum of Science and Industry. The  beautiful , massive building the museum calls home was once called the Palace of Fine Arts, and is now the last remaining structure of the Chicago World’ s Columbian Exposition  that was held there in 1893. World’ s Fairs (or  Expositions and Exhibitions ,  as they were also called) were long, multi-month events popular from 1851 to the 1960s. In a single location, they showcased and celebrated the world’s new technologies and inventions, scientific advancements, cultural contributions in art, and astonishing curiosities. They combined the enterprise of a trade show with the atmosphere of a carnival, which produced an effect that not only entertai

Thinking Inside the Box: How Nuts, Bolts, and a Bigger Box are what made NASA Successful during the Space Age

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Bolts from the original Launch Umbilical Tower (LUT). by Dr. Anthony Paustian Author of  A Quarter Million Steps National Space Society REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION ©2019  Anthony D. Paustian I’m a collector of sorts, especially when it comes to Apollo memorabilia. There’s something about being surrounded by these artifacts that ignites and inspires my creativity. While window shopping an online space auction recently, something grabbed my attention––two large bolts including washers and nuts. Though most people probably wouldn’t get too excited about a couple of bolts, these were special, as they were part of the original Launch Umbilical Tower used to launch the Saturn V rockets to the Moon. The bolts were huge, about eight inches in length, weighed about five pounds each, and still had portions covered in the original orange-red paint. Seeing these bolts got me thinking about everything that went into putting a man on the Moon. While we celebrate the 50th anni

One Giant, 50-Year Leap

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People gather in Central Park in New York to watch the Moon landing. by Dr. Anthony Paustian Author of  A Quarter Million Steps National Space Society REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION ©2019  Anthony D. Paustian Imagine an organization with a name recognized in every country in the world, whose every move was watched by hundreds of millions of people, and whose successes fulfilled the dreams of a nation and inspired awe and admiration around the world. This was NASA in the 1960s.   I was five years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to land on the Moon during the flight of Apollo 11. Like many people, I watched the event on a black and white television, and then went outside to look up at the Moon, knowing people were there. For the millions of children across the globe who were inspired by that occurrence, this was a defining brand moment for NASA. The Apollo program set a new and dramatic benchmark for our abilities as a nation. If we can g