Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One of my favourite government agencies

Happy Birthday, NASA! NASA is 50 today --- this to me is incredible, partly the fact that they are so young!
I remember when I was growing up, when NASA wasn't even much of a teenager, being allowed to stay up very late on occasion to watch Apollo take-offs, or on one rather memorable occasion, to watch Armstrong's first steps on the moon. I never became an astronaut, but like huge numbers of children then it was one of my top career goals for years.

It's a curious fact that a huge part of the success of NASA is owed to the fact that the US bullied Canada into shutting down its amazing aircraft industry. In 59, the Diefenbaker government shut down the Arrow project (the "joke" at the time was that they were reversing the WWII "pans into planes" drive and were going pull the planes apart to make aluminium skillets...) at the behest of the US government (on the behalf of Boeing, McD-D, etc). Huge numbers of aeronautical engineers, ten thousand or so, were put out of work overnight, and a large group of them ended up leading design projects for NASA. A bunch of others went to work on other exciting projects in the UK -- Concorde, the Harrier, etc. Who knows where the Canadian aeronautical industry would be today otherwise.

But that's in the past. For today, Happy Birthday, NASA.

Yours, gazing starwards,

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