space race

Ohio in the Space Race

As this time gets closer towards July 20th, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the famous first moon landing, we look at the state of Ohio and it’s contribution to the space race. Not just the people that went into space, but the Ohio products they used and the Ohio locations that helped them are also important. Ohio had a big role in putting Americans in space.

The People:

John Glenn:
We Have talked about first American to orbit the earth before. On Friendship 7 he had issues with the heat shield but survived to fly again. The next flight would have to wait however. Glenn did not travel to space again until 1998 becoming the oldest person to do so and  the second sitting senator. He  and his wife have a museum in New Concord.

Charles A. Bassett:
Basset was from Dayton. He was one of the early astronauts selected to fly on Gemini missions. He was scheduled to fly on Gemini 9, but was killed along Elliott M. See, Jr., who was to fly into space with Basset, when the plane they were flying in crashed.

Jim Lovell:
Jim Lovell was the born in Cleveland. As the an early astronaut he flew into space many times. First on an endurance mission on Gemini 7, then on Gemini 12, after the deaths of Gemini 9’s main crew (Basset and See) moved everyone up. This flight was with Buzz Aldrin, who would later fly with another Famous Ohioan. The next mission Lovell took put him in orbit around the moon. He would not get to land on Apollo 8, but would be scheduled to land on his next mission, Apollo 13. Due to an explosion in an oxygen tank the mission was not able to land on the moon.  He does not have a museum yet.

Neil Armstrong:
As many shows, movies, presentations, and exhibits will tell Neil Armstrong was the first person to step foot on the moon. Did you know he was from Wapakoneta, Ohio? The city even houses a very nice museum dedicated to him.

The Products:

While the men who would fly were growing up through out the state, the products they would need were also so being created. A few of the items produced include:

Russel Colley worked for B.F. Goodrich of Akron. During his time he designed a pressure suit for Willy Post. This suit lead to the creation of the Navy Mark IV pressure suit. This suit was used by John Glenn and all the Mercury Astronauts. The

Marion Power Shovel Company, of Marion, Ohio, known for creating large shovels, created the Crawler-Transporter that carried the Saturn V to the launch platform.

Goodyear Aerospace Corporation was famous for making blimps when NASA asked them to create the heating and cooling systems for the Apollo Vehicles. They were are asked to make the tires for some of the equipment used on the lunar surface.

Airstream created the motor homes that became Mobile Quarantine Facility for the returning Apollo 11, 12, and 14 astronauts.

At the Armstrong Air and Space Museum is a map with many more of the place and companies in Ohio responsible for helping to get Americans on the Moon. The contribution of this great state is long and on going. And this was just before landing on the Moon. The state has gone on to do a lot more after the space race was over. But that is for another day.

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