Friday, November 13, 2009

Celebrating Water on the Moon with Google and Dad

I join NASA and Google in celebrating the discovery of water on the moon — technically, the discovery of water molecules on the Moon's surface — but water nonetheless.

My dad is one of the reasons NASA could make this discovery.  He spent a huge part of his life — and mine — sending machinery and people to the moon.  He also was instrumental in getting them home (see Apollo 13: my dad was one of their "go-to" geeks in times of trouble).  He also worked on the space shuttle.  As an electrical and mechanical engineer, he was the thruster guy.

I took my dad to the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. when he visited me ages ago.  We stood in front of the lunar module as he explained how he designed the reverse thrusters to provide — well, if I was a rocket scientist, I could explain it.  He could, and people started shuffling closer to us to listen and watch as dad gestured, described and pointed.  A woman asked him a few questions about the module, and he answered them.  When we walked away, the small crowd dissipated.

"You know," he said, "I was at Cape Canaveral with my brother Bob and was telling him about [insert mechanical terminology regarding the spacecraft here].  A young woman with a small child stood there and listened.  When I finished, she turned to her child and said, 'Son, you don't have to believe everything you hear.'" He chuckled at the memory.

Dad possessed a great sense of humor and was smarter than should be allowed — and was very humble despite it all.

Thanks, Google, for the fun artwork I posted above.  And thanks, Dad, for helping make the discovery possible.


Beth said...

I LOVE this! I don't think I knew all that about your dad. I knew him as a sweet, funny, humble man who adored his little girl. What a wonderful tribute to him!

Chris said...

Thank you, Beth for such kind words.

Dad surprised a lot of people: he learned Russian in college so he could talk to his Soviet counterparts when the Cold War melted, and his compatriots were really surprised when I mentioned it at his memorial service.