The Front Lines of Exploration

This week, I’ve been working on my notes for a workshop on military culture for my writing group, Cat Vacuuming Society, and one of the questions I was asked was “What writers have gotten it right?”  Robert Heinlein, for his book Starship Troopers.  He enlisted in the military, though he later had health problems.  But he took what he knew and applied to to what he didn’t know — space exploration.  It was published in 1959, 10 years away from a milestone: Apollo 11 going to the moon, and the first man, Neil Armstrong, to walk on the moon.

Neil Armstrong died on August 25.  Space exploration, as Heinlein and other science fiction writers predicted, a military operation.  Commander Neil Armstrong was a Navy pilot, and he served in the Korean War. Up until the space shuttle program, NASA largely pulled astronauts  from the military.

Neil Armstrong in space suit prepares to board Apollo 11

Image Credit: NASA

I’ve only seen Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in TV clips and the video below.

When ‘mission control’ is mentioned, I think of men in white dress shirts and horn-rimmed glasses seated in rows and rows of consoles.  Now we have technology like this air traffic controller from the USS Makin Island:

Blue illumination of night lights of air traffic control manned by a female sailor on an aircraft carrier.

U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill

It’s hard to believe the leaps we’ve made in our technology, especially in the last 20 years.  What do you think is coming for us in the future?