Today is my 53rd birthday, which means I'm another year closer to Death!!! Hopefully, I'll make it past 57, which would be quite a feat considering that the last 5 generations of Wallace males have not lived past the age of 57. Cancer has been the killer in my family but so far, I'm healthy as a horse. I don't take a single pill, all my numbers are great and I live a fairly healthy lifestyel
Knowing my luck though, the day before my 58th birthday, I'll be struck down by falling space debris or some odd thing like that. Go figure?
Anyways, as I mentioned, NASA had a great way of celebrating my 1st birthday in 1961. They launched a man into space!
According to Wikipedia:
In 1959, Shepard was one of 110 military test pilots invited by the newly-formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration to volunteer for the first US manned space flight program. Following a grueling series of physical and psychological tests, NASA selected Shepard to be one of the original group of seven Mercury astronauts.
In January 1961, Shepard was chosen for the first American manned mission into space. Although the flight was originally scheduled for October 1960, delays by unplanned preparatory work meant that this was postponed several times, initially to March 6, 1961 and finally to May 5.
On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first person in space and to orbit the Earth.
On May 5, 1961, Shepard piloted the Freedom 7 mission and became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space.
He was launched by a Redstone rocket, and unlike Gagarin's 108-minute orbital flight, Shepard stayed on a ballistic trajectory—a 15-minute suborbital flight which carried him to an altitude of 116 statute miles (187 km) and to a splashdown point 302 statute miles (486 km) down the Atlantic Missile Range. Unlike Gagarin, whose flight was strictly automatic, Shepard had some control of Freedom 7, spacecraft attitude in particular. The launch was seen live on television by millions.
Shortly before the launch, Shepard said to himself: "Don't fuck up, Shepard..." This quote was reported as "Dear Lord, please don't let me fuck up" in The Right Stuff, though Shepard confirmed this as a misquote. Regardless, the latter quote has since become known among aviators as "Shepard's Prayer."
According to Gene Kranz in his book, Failure Is Not an Option, "When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, 'The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.'"
After a dramatic Atlantic Ocean recovery, Commander Shepard observed, "…didn't really feel the flight was a success until the recovery had been successfully completed. It's not the fall that hurts; it's the sudden stop."
After his successful return, Shepard was celebrated as a national hero, honored with parades in Washington, New York and Los Angeles and received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal from President John F. Kennedy.
As I said, NASA chose a stunning means of celebrating my 1st birthday.