Liftoff

by Andrew Chaikin on April 24, 2009

Power to Go Paul Calle

Welcome to my new blog. I’m going to be talking about space exploration, and why after more than half a century it’s still one of the things that makes me glad to be alive.

This painting of the liftoff of a Saturn V moon rocket, Power to GO by the supremely talented artist Paul Calle, does a lot to show why I feel this way. It’s not just the sheer intensity of the moment, or even the incredible ingenuity that went into actually creating a moonship and getting it to work. It’s what it says about us humans, and our dreams, and what we’re capable of accomplishing when we pull together.

And it’s about where that rocket is going. Even now, when I think of the fact that the moon is no longer just a light in the sky but a place where people have been, and will return to, I feel the thrill of being on a grand continuum of exploration. I feel thankful that as a teenager I got to witness the voyages of Apollo as they were taking place, and that as an adult I could tell the story of Apollo through the eyes of the astronauts. Ultimately, one of the things that really “lights my candle,” to use Apollo 12 moonwalker Pete Conrad’s phrase, is the story we are all living through. It’s a story that has already spanned generations and will continue, I firmly believe, as long as humans exist, one that provides a spectacular context to our day-to-day lives.

What a story, and what a time to be alive.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Stockman April 24, 2009 at 9:45 am

What a beautiful painting; abstract, yet powerful. It does indeed symbolize the future of humanity, portraying the potency of our future accomplishments off this planet, the mystery of the adventures not yet revealed to us, and the self-discovery of the human spirit that awaits.

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Dan Estridge April 24, 2009 at 9:54 am

Having known Andy for almost the entirety of that half-century, I want to go on record as saying that Andy’s lifelong pursuit of all things space and space-exploration is one of the things that makes me glad to be alive.

Thanks, Andy for giving all of us such an example of focus, tenacity and extraordinary subject-area mastery. And now, thanks too for sharing your passion and insight in this new blog. I will look forward to your every post.
All the best,
Dan

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Piers Bizony April 24, 2009 at 10:23 am

Great to see Andy carrying on ‘carrying the fire.’ It’s also good to highlight the importance of art, as well as science and politics, as one of the instinctive fuels for space exploration, and one of the most powerful ways of conveying its meanings.

All best, and let us hope that Apollo will turn out to have been just the first lunar spaceship, not the last. Andy’s writing and advocacy certainly helps that cause greatly.

Piers

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Leyla Torres April 24, 2009 at 10:36 am

Andy

What a way to share with us your passion for space exploration and to keep all our candles lit!

I am looking forward to reading your posts.

Leyla

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Tahir Rahman April 24, 2009 at 11:02 am

What a wonderful idea for a blog!

Andy Chaikin is the premier voice of the history of Apollo. As we near the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, I salute his work to preserve the historical record of mankinds greatest adventure.

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Robert Pearlman April 24, 2009 at 11:34 am

Liftoff indeed! Congratulations Andy on the launch of the blog. I look forward to reading more of your unique and enjoyable takes on space history.

You’ll need to update your masthead: Author, Speaker, Space Journalist, Blogger.

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Mark Usciak April 24, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Nobody does it better than Andy, in expressing the passion for space exploration, and the real stories of the people and events that make it so exciting to watch. Keep of the great work, and looking forward to following your new site…….many thanks for all you have done!

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Angela Manno April 24, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Hi, Andy– Congratulations! That is a powerful graphic to open to on your new blog! When will we see your paintings? I look forward to checking back. And yes, we are living a Great Story. The chapter now is whether we will have the will to salvage and restore our beautiful home planet.

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Michael April 24, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Cool.
Can’t wait to read the stuff you write.

Take Care
Michael

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Mark Mayfield April 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Andy,
Congrats on the blog. I’ll be reading! And a wonderful way to open with Paul Calle’s “Power to GO.” We’ve got a very nice print of it hanging in our office in New York. It’s always inspiring. You couldn’t have chosen a better painting for the debut of Chaikin’s Space. Come see us soon, and keep writing so eloquently about the wonder and adventure of spaceflight!
Mark

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Lore Peters April 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Terrific Andy !

Beautiful work of art..

The liftoff of this blog is going to be a great way for all our candles to be lit. Thank you for sharing your passion and for keeping us all in the loop of stars and space..

And I’m on board for the “grand continuum of exploration” !! It is an amazing time to be alive and it will be interesting to see exactly what we humans are capable of accomplishing.

- fellow traveler .. Lore

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Jonathan Goff April 24, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Andrew,
Glad to see you join the blogosphere! I really enjoyed your book “Full Moon”. My 4 year old son calls it “Daddy’s Special Moon Book” and loves sitting there flipping through the pages.

~Jonathan Goff

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Jim Scotti April 24, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Great choice of artwork for your first entry! I too love that painting as it really conveys the power of the good ol’ Saturn V at liftoff!

The news about the possible delay by 2 years of the Ares V has me a bit down today. At these times, I think back to when I was 12 and watching the last Apollo Astronauts at Taurus-Littrow when I thought I was going to be too young to be the first human to set foot on Mars. Remember where we thought we would be today back then? Frustrating sometimes. But its people like Andy who have helped humans remember what we can do when we put our minds to it and where we might be again when we get off our duffs and get back out there like we did during Apollo!

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David Montgomery April 24, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Wow, great Andy! A “Liftoff” indeed! I’ll be checking (and chiming in) often. Keep up the great work.

Dave, NAR # 21853 SR., Team # 040
Challenger 498 Section NAR Advisor

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Larry McGlynn April 24, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Andy,

Good to see you in the blogosphere.

I look forward to your insight.

Larry

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jessie bergman April 25, 2009 at 9:01 am

how wonderful Andy…you are simply amazing…can’t wait to read more, and much good luck, as always

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Rusty Schweickart April 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

Andy… great to see you blogging. A reliable information source in a very dynamic environment… and one we can all trust. Thanks for taking this on.

Rusty

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Tim Gagnon April 25, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Andy -

Congratulations on this new tool to entertain, educate and inform! I look forward to many, many entries. I am one who was born in the middle of the last century and who is grateful to have witnessed our first exploration of the Moon.

Thanks for giving eloquence to our memories.

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Bruce Irving April 27, 2009 at 10:42 am

What a great voice to add to the web conversation on space in this Apollo anniversary year. Looking forward to reading your posts.

-Bruce Irving

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Amy Deppe April 27, 2009 at 11:31 am

Website looks great, And!! We’re exciting to follow it! -Am and Cam

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Guy Webster April 27, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Andy,
Best wishes on this new venture. I’m looking forward to your comments and updates.

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John Kuehl April 27, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Andy-

Congrats on the blog. Looking very much forward to reading more by the hands down best, and most passionate writer about the Space Program!

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Jody Litwin Paul April 30, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Your blog looks GREAT! Congratulations and good luck with it! We’ll be following along…

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Avi Fagan May 1, 2009 at 9:27 pm

hi Andy

glad to have a place to keep up with your writing. Just recently, my son & I were reading through your Apollo 13 chapter, one of my favorite pieces of technical-and-deeply-human writing anywhere.

-Avi

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GoesTo11 May 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Andy,

Great to see you blogging…I’ve enjoyed your work tremendously. Any notion as to how frequently you’ll be able to post?

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Frank Sietzen May 7, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Andy-
Great to see you blogging about our favorite subject! Looking forward to your new book coming next week.
Keep the voice of space exploration alive in our time-America needs, now more than ever, hope and inspiration that we as a people and a species can immerse ourselves in a cause greater than our own self-interest.

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Frank Sietzen May 15, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Dear Andy-
I read your new book from cover to cover and just wanted to tell you how profoundly moved I was by these stories. Although I have many books about the space program-and Apollo-more than a thousand at last count-your new work is the only one that made me feel as if I was along for the ride during every one of these Apollo missions. I can only imagine the preparation you had to go through to ask the questions that generated this remarkable record of humanity’s first voyages to another world.
Well done!

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Donna O'Meara May 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm

…and Andy mahalo for doing this. What an inspirational site. You have always been one of my heroes and such a positive life force. You are one of only two true renaissance men I know. You are at once a scholar, poet, musician, inspirational voice, space nut, decent human being and darn nice guy. I wish you the best with this blog it is always uplifting to read your words. In a time when science seems to have become so niched and germ-X’d it is wonderful to see true passion at work. Your sincere love for Space causes not only a ripple effect—but a tsunami effect. I look forward to your future cyber-inspirations.

Aloha,

Donna

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Marilyn Swiss May 23, 2009 at 11:53 am

Andy…

Thank you! For the information, inspiration and “just plain fun” that accompanies your passion. And thank you for providing a place to send those folks who ask “why spend so much money on a space program?”
I will never forget viewing Saturn – I still can’t believe it was the real thing!

Bravo.

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Robin Litwin May 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Hi Andy -

Great work, as usual!
You’re amazing -

-your sister :)

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GoesTo11 June 10, 2009 at 10:02 am

Andy,

I’m a big fan of Paul Calle’s work as well. Can you tell us anything about the upcoming book collection of his work that you’re introducing? Amazon.com doesn’t list it yet. Thanks!

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