Walt Grayson: Mississippi’s role in getting to the moon

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HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss (WJTV)- Mankind’s fascination with the moon goes back to the beginning when God created heaven and earth and light and darkness and the greater light for the day and the lesser light for the night. We’ve composed music in honor of it, poems and sonnets to it and about it, Ralph Kramden threatened to send his wife, Alice to it weekly on Jackie Gleeson’s “The Honeymooners” pioneer television show. And I’d imagine all of us who are able to have taken a walk in its light at some point in our lives.

But then came this challenge: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.”

That speech by President John Kennedy changed the moon from an object of mankind’s imagination into an objective. But to actually get to the moon you have to have a ride- the Saturn V rocket. And to make sure that ride is dependable, you have to know the engine works.

And THAT’S where the path to the moon came through Mississippi- at the Stennis Space Center’s Test Facility in Hancock County. Randy Galloway is the Deputy Director of the center. “The first test was done here on the A2 test stand in April of 1966. So we essentially tested Apollo rockets from mid-1966 until October of 1970.”

Close to the Stennis facility on Interstate 10 is the Infinity Science Center where there are all sorts of NASA exhibits, from an actual Apollo Command Module to the first stage of a Saturn V Rocket. And a chance for you to participate in a world’s record at the exact time of the Apollo 11 liftoff 50 years ago at 9:32 am this Tuesday morning.

John Wilson the Director of the Infinity Science Center explains, “To break the Guinness Book of World Records for launching the largest number of rockets ever on a single day. So guest can come here to Infinity. They can build everything from straw rockets to stomp rockets to pop rockets to actual solid-fuel rockets that we’ll launch outside.”

To commemorate the exact moment we broke with earth 50 years ago and left for the moon.

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