Space Museum

The other day I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

that brought back my own childhood growing up in Huntsville. In the early days the closest we had to a space museum were missiles on display downtown on the square during celebratory parade events, and a solitary rocket and a blocky above-ground fallout shelter just outside the airport. Since my father often was off on TDY I saw the latter a lot more than the former which were avoided as too unpleasant and crowded. 

As I entered adolescence, the NASA folks had a building on the boundary between NASA and Army on Redstone Arsenal where they showed off all manner of hardware and had a field full of rockets and missiles in front. It was a block or so from the Redstone Scientific Information Center, easily the best library in Amerika.

There was little education at the museum. You had to get information on your own or suffer the maskarovka of the schule system. Once you had strolled and twisted your neck among the rockets and missiles they were forever etched in your visual memory. There was some turn-over inside especially with stuff that NASA had finished doing development of. I recall that for several years the most popular thing in the museum was a steel plate with welded guard rails and four air bearings underneath. The thing was kept in a walled box about twice its area and it had a momentary ON switch to power the bearings. You stood on the plate, closed the switch and vibrated around the box on a cushion of air. Very noisy, mostly because of the compressor but always with a line of kids waiting (and arguing) to use the device.

It didn’t survive the transition to Space and Rocket Center. Too dangerous. Another example of how we lie to our children, I suppose?

I also used to live near the Space and Rocket Museum. It was supposed to open as a storm shelter during foul weather, but never did. They just put a guy out front who yelled “Full Up” though the rain. I would take out-of-town relatives there but it was so boring and dull that it was not a place for one who really did rocket science.