She Who Must Be Obeyed has been recording episodes of Star Trek Enterprise daily as they are shown on HDNET — in excellent ("HD") quality and with no commercials. So we've been watching them very regularly. There were many good shows early on but I lost interest in it later with its serialized struggles with the same baddies week after week. One thing I did like, however, were the opening titles. Artistically done, those "credits" with historical, contemporary, and imagined images showing humankind's adventures of exploration were and are a pleasure to behold. My quibble with them is the images aren't presented in sequential order –earliest, to current, to future– but jumbled up. That aside, as a long-time space exploration enthusiast those images bring back memories. There's Auguste Piccard the physicist and balloonist high over a mountain range under a gas balloon. That's physicist and rocket pioneer (a boyhood hero) Robert H. Goddard writing out equations on a chalkboard. What gets me every time, however, is the shot of astronaut Alan B. Shepard in his space suit, complete with "Snoopy cap," getting ready to travel to the Moon. The way he turns, cocks his head to one side, and smiles a serene smile; he looks like he'd have been a good friend and fun guy to hang out with. Though I never met the man, the clip of Shepard does bring back personal memories. I was privileged to have been among the press corps covering the launch of Apollo 14 –Shepard's flight– at, then, Cape Kennedy.
The night before the launch we were taken by bus to a spot near the launch pad where the mighty Saturn V rocket, resplendent in white, stood floodlit and waiting against the black sky. The next day I stood at the cordon watching, and shooting photos, as Shepard and his crewmates, only feet away, boarded the van that drove them to the pad. Later I witnessed the mammoth rocket thunder into the sky and disappear through the clouds as I was pummeled by the physical force of the sound from 3.5 miles away. The Apollo 14 mission, especially after the near-disaster of Apollo 13, was a tremendous success. It was, of course, a most memorable personal experience for me. I was saddened years later when the news read, "Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the first American to fly in space and one of only 12 humans who walked on the Moon, died … (July 22, 1998) … after a lengthy illness in Monterey, CA. He was 74." The cause of his death was leukemia. The filmed picture of his smiling face from launch day, replayed in the Star Trek titles, is the image that remains freeze-framed in my mind. That was a great day. It's been a long road.
NOTE: "It's been a long road" — the opening words to the song, "Faith Of The Heart," by Russell Watson, the theme to Star Trek: Enterprise
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