Road trip day one, Tucson to Alamagordo and the New Mexico Museum of Space History. Not to be missed, but it brought home quite painfully the deeply entangled histories of space exploration and war. Rockets that seek the stars, and missiled death raining from the skies.
Our rockets are only a step or two removed from the V2 missiles Nazis developed to rain terror on London. On my family. At the end of WWII we didn’t just bring Nazi scientists like Wernher von Braun, who features prominently in this place, but also 300 box cars of missiles and assorted parts and projects to the military installation here at White Sands. Their gadgets fill the exhibits, and outside the museum sits pieces of a V2, part of this war treasure exploded as a test here at White Sands.
All this not just part of the space race, but the development of the atom bomb. You can only visit the Trinity site twice a year on a guided tour, but a small model sits here surrounded by Trinitite, the sand melted into glass by the blast.
I have no words for the terror of the atom bomb.
White Sands continues to close regularly for missile tests. The thrill and excitement that space exploration brings me barely survives these reminders. I don’t know quite what to do with the tangle.
I leave it all there, to be what it is.
The primary navigation, guidance and control systems from the Apollo Skylab astonish in their simplicity. It is extraordinary not just to remember the early days of computers, but all that we managed to do with them.
A reminder like the Titan Missile Museum of how much space so very little computing capacity required. How basic it all seems to us now, the phone that snapped this picture more powerful than any computer in these displays.
There are buttons to be pushed here, though. Switches to be switched, gloves to be tried, guidance systems to be attempted. There are reminders of astronaut bravery, bits and pieces of their everyday life and the meeting of Americans and Russians in the vastess of space. The space hall of fame. A mock transporter from Star Trek which brought me immense joy. We arrived late in the afternoon and almost had it to ourselves, and the joy of space dreaming mostly won the day. We even bought a mug.