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 Posted: Sun Apr 18th, 2010 11:34 pm
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pamc153PA
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Hi folks,

I just watched the movie "October Sky" again last night. If you haven't ever seen it, it's a terrific little-known movie that is based on the life of Homer Hickam, a NASA scientist who worked training crews of the space shuttle.

The inciting moment for directing Hickam into interest in the space program was the launch of Sputnik in 1957. In the movie, Hickam, his friends and neighbors stand in their front yards at nght to see Sputnik fly by overhead. Based on what I know, that was also a defining moment for the United States, a turning point for our country and citizens. However, I was not even a glimmer in my parents' eyes in 1957, so I missed the event, one I dearly wish I could have witnessed.

Does anyone here remember this time in our country's history, especially Sputnik? Mostly, I'd be interested to hear what it felt like to hear about and perhaps see it, and what the feelings were surrounding it were. Thanks for sharing!

Pam



 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2010 01:01 pm
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ole
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The usual thing, Pam. Congressional investigations and outrage that they had better engineers in the USSR. Nevermind that the same protestors probably were the ones who sat on any proposals. It did tend to loosen up the exploration funding, though.



 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2010 02:08 pm
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Mark
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Great movie! Its one of my favorites. I'm glad you enjoyed it Pam!

Mark



 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2010 02:57 pm
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Texas Defender
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ole-

  You might remember after Sputnik was launched, some folks were saying that it proved that: "Their Germans" were smarter than: "Our Germans."

  This was not the case, as: "Our" Germans who were working for the military could have launched a satellite before 1957, if they had not been forbidden to pursue that project.

Sputnik Plus 50

  Launching Sputnik was a huge propaganda coup for the Soviets, and of course they trumpeted it as proof of the : "Superiority" of their system. In a sense, their system was superior, as their progress wasn't hampered by governmental turf wars and bureaucratic wrangling. In the end, however, the sight of a light going across the sky simply making a beeping sound was enough to give a kick in the pants to the US government, and our progress was eventually able to surpass that of the Soviets.



 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2010 03:00 pm
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susansweet3
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Pam, I was in 7th grade,  We did go outside at night to watch it go over.  I seem to remember it was just a light going across the sky.  Easier to see then as there were not the helicopters and other lights in the sky to distract. 

What Ole said about the rest of it is true.  I just remember it was all over the news.



 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2010 04:59 pm
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19bama46
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I remember a feeling of gloom because "they" had shown "us" up. It did not fit with all the myths that little boys growing up in post WWII had learned about how the Americans were the absolute best at everything..
Watching that thing go overhead angered me and my friends unbelieveably



 Posted: Tue Apr 20th, 2010 01:28 am
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Alexandra
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Pam - the "hero" of that movie is now a best-selling author (one of my favorites) who started with the book October Sky is based on.  There's more on him at http://www.homerhickam.com plus some info on Sputnik and those times, too.



 Posted: Thu Sep 2nd, 2010 08:25 am
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Hellcat
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I can't watch the movie without thinking fondly of my senior year of high school. Back then I had a regular subscription to the Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine. The Feb/March 1995 edition had an article by Homer Hickam about the Big Creek Missile Agency and their attempts to build rockets. At the time my school had an elective science course that gave me a little too much free reign that was called Science, Technology, and Society. Basically was supposed to allow students to explore various forms of science and technology and their effects on society, and vice versa, though it really wasn't very well structured.

At the time I was looking into aerodynamics and the article gave me a crazy idea. Hickman talked about a demonstration his teacher had given the class on rapid oxidation which he and his friends saw as a means of rocket propellant. Fortunately for me he gave the ingredients used and the amounts, which proved unfortunate for a poor petri/mixing dish. I got the idea to try making a rocket plane, which my teacher too readily agreed to mainly because he wanted us to produce these awe inspiring projects. Got to expiriment with a pretty pink flame, trying to find the right burn rate. Then once I had what I thought was the right burn rate I tried making a poster board nozzle, figuring it'd naturally burn away but I'd at least get an idea how well it might work. I've no clue what happened exactly, why it didn't burn  like I expected, but the nozzle was still largely intact. However, it must have produced a very small amount of thrust which combined with the heat cause the dish was split in two.

Nothing really came of the experiments save for a rather useless rocket motor that couldn't even ignite. But when I saw the commercials for the first time years later all I could think of was that dish. Same thing whenever I see the movie.



 Posted: Thu Sep 2nd, 2010 01:13 pm
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Number Nine
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Nice story Hellcat, imagine if it had worked, we all might be cruising at warp factor 9 in our cars by now. Not to mention how rich you would be, LOL



 Posted: Tue Sep 7th, 2010 05:49 pm
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dina1989
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"October Sky"
Great movie! Its one of my favorites.. .



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