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

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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 anniversary of those missions, the focus tends to be on the astronauts as heroes in the sa…

One Giant, 50-Year Leap

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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 go to the Moon, then what other feats long considered impossible could we accomplish? While President Ken…

Achieving Greatness: Three Factors that Produced a "First Man"

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by Dr. Anthony Paustian
Author of A Quarter Million Steps

National Space Society
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
©2019  Anthony D. Paustian

Whether it’s the Illuminati controlling the world, the September 11th attacks being an “inside job,” or people believing the world is flat, conspiracy theories have always existed. One of the most popular conspiracy theories is that the Apollo Moon landings never happened and were faked on a sound stage.
The theorists point to a number of perceived issues with film oddities, radiation exposure, flag fluttering, preservation of footprints, lack of lunar module blast craters, no visible flame on the ascent stage, communications delays, and missing telemetry tapes and blueprints.

Despite those who have bought into this theory, these issues have been either debunked or logically explained by many people on numerous occasions. Among the issues related to this theory, I’m surprised I’ve never heard of anyone questioning the short length of time it took to go from an…

STEM is a Team Sport

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by Dr. Anthony Paustian
Author of A Quarter Million Steps

National Space Society
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
©2018  Anthony D. Paustian

The world was united, perhaps for the first time in history. As I sat in front of my grandmother’s black and white television, I was forced to watch the event—every station carried it live, all four of them. But it was in that moment, the instant Neil Armstrong’s boot hit the Moon’s surface, I knew without a doubt what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wasn’t alone, as most children my age wanted the same thing: to become an astronaut.

The passion created by that event stuck with me, and I was completely hooked. So much so that when I was eight, I racked up an enormous telephone bill working through four operator assists to call NASA at Kennedy Space Center during primetime long distance hours in order to ask for “space stuff” (the public affairs person was very nice and sent me a box of photos and literature). 
After doing the research I realized that to be an…

Why Apollo Was Sticky

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by Dr. Anthony Paustian
Author of A Quarter Million Steps

National Space Society
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
©2018  Anthony D. Paustian

Decades ago my father, always the jokester, would tell this "multipart" joke. The genius of his approach was in how it was told: as two separate jokes, delivered back-to-back, each totally dependent upon the other. No one ever saw the connection until after the big reveal, which is what always made it funny.
Today, when I speak about creativity, I frequently begin the presentation by telling a version of his joke to help illustrate a point. It goes something like this:
A little girl is skipping down the street when she comes upon three colored bricks lying on the road: one red, one yellow, and one blue. She pauses, reaches down for the red one, thinks for a moment, and heaves it into the air. The brick hits the ground hard and breaks into pieces. After laughing a bit, she reaches down for the yellow one and heaves it higher into the air. The brick…