Abandon in place. What a chill those three words give me.
As a kid growing up in the Mayberry type town in Vermont I lived in, the very idea of spaceflight was so astounding that you could feel the temperature rise when a group of ten year olds talked about it.
We all followed the space program and the NASA Mercury control room was the right stuff for many pre-teen dreams. I wish I could remember all the cardboard replicas I made of mission control. I know that names like Christopher Kraft the first NASA flight director and Thomas O’Malley who actually pushed the button for the famous flight of Commander Glen were household names to me.
So it’s sad to me to learn that the Mercury Mission control center will probably be torn down soon.
Most of the original control room equipment was moved to the visitor’s center in 1999 when it was discovered that the roof was leaking. A million bucks would fix the roof but now the place is so far gone that it will take more than $5 million to put it back in shape.
Even more disturbing is the fate of Launch complex 34. In 1967 Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, died in a tragic accident. The capsule caught on fire during a test and the three astronauts were killed.
The Launch pad has a couple of plaques. One says in Latin-a rough path leads to the stars.
But the words stenciled on the side of the huge concrete launch pad say everything.
Abandon in place.
What’s that line about history? If we forget we are doomed to repeat it?