Posts Tagged ‘Moonwalk’



Anyone who grew up in America in the ‘60s must find the present state of space travel a major disappointment.

It was the year Harley-Davidson merged with AMF, the cool movie was Easy Rider which portrayed hippies who rode choppers and Neil Armstrong walked/bounced on the moon.   Forty years ago the crew of Apollo 11 squeezed together over an eight day period and a half-million mile journey to place a plaque on the moon that said “came in peace for all mankind.” I was a child, but like others of my generation, I fully expected there to have been massive space stations orbiting the earth and colonies on the moon by now.

What a rush the space race was. Using German WWII rocket technology, both the Americans and the Russians innovated like mad to launch the first satellite in 1959 (Russia’s Sputnik); to put the first person in orbit (Russia’s Yuri Gagarin in 1961); and finally the first person on the moon (Armstrong in 1969). Clearly lunar bases and spaceships in the solar system was expected by the Twitter-first century, right?

In reflecting about the time and place I realized my path is connected.  Sort of a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing.  First were the years I lived in El Paso, TX and my father worked at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).  He spent 1968 in Vietnam working with Hawk Missiles, but on his return to Texas they were involved in some Apollo testing.  I didn’t fully know or understand the significance at the time.

And later like many who graduated from college, I joined the electronic masses at Tektronix.  In 1980 Tek sold the Patient Monitor business to pharmaceutical conglomerate Squibb (a.k.a., Vitatek) and I moved into the healthcare arena.  Squibb was on a buying frenzy of medical devices and services so it was anticipated to be a good career move.  Little did I know what it would be like working with Carl A. Lombardi (CEO) and his not so interesting view of business.  The next year Vitatek merged with Spacelabs Medical (originally out of Chatsworth, CA).

Spacelabs was co-founded by Ben Ettelson and James A. Reeves in 1958 for the express purpose of working with NASA and the U.S. Air Force on systems to monitor the vital signs of astronauts in space.   The company manufactured and delivered prototypes of miniaturized signal conditioners which measured astronauts’ temperature, respiration, and cardiac activity. In July 1969, just days after Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission , NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center ) honored Spacelabs Medical with a certificate of appreciation for its “outstanding” contributions to the Apollo Program—contributions which proved vital for the Nation’s goal of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth.

When I worked at Spacelabs we adapted the technology it originally developed for NASA for the first bedside arrhythmia-monitoring system which allowed physicians to view real-time arrhythmia data, at the patient’s side, for the first time.

Congrats to Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on your 40th anniversary and historic return to Earth with moon rocks!

LEM Photo from a visit to Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama.

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MJacksonHe wanted acceptance and to be so incredibly good that he couldn’t be denied.

Of course I’m talking about Michael Jackson.  A child star turned “King of Pop” who with Quincy Jones released a dance floor epic when disco was supposedly dead.  Together they concocted a synthesis of rock and beats that would not be denied.  Then there was the MTV television “Thriller” moment.  There’s only before and after.  Michael Jackson’s moonwalk was one of those events.  Like the moon landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

And speaking of the moonscapes, I remember many years ago thinking how odd while watching a clay-mation video which included a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a MJ moon-walking rabbit called Speed Demon.  Clearly a head of its time.   Then last April the cash-strapped artist tried to have an array of treasures from his Neverland Ranch get auctioned, including his 2001 Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycle which was outfitted as a police cruiser complete with lights and siren.

Now it’s over and the circus begins.  It’s been like a sad movie unspooling on the floor.  We can all debate the low points.  For me it started with plastic surgery and it ended with court cases.  And when Michael tried to explain, when he showed up in court in his pajamas, I tuned out and didn’t want to listen.   I didn’t give him much of a break.  The public no longer treats you human, as an equal, once you break through to stardom-phere.  I’m sure it got confusing and we watched his retreat.

I think we’ve lost something with the passing of Michael Jackson.  May he RIP.

Photo courtesy of Julien Auctions and MJ Productions.

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