The Dreams of Wally Schirra -or- Fly Me to the Moon
The Right Stuff -or- The Dream of Spaceflight
The dream of flight, is as old as recorded human history. The Bible records that the prophet Elijah was carried by a chariot and horses of fire to heaven. The Islamic prophet Muhammed experienced a similar spiritual "Night Journey" meeting many of the other prophets of Judaism and Christianity. In ancient Greek mythology "Icarus" with wings his father had constructed, decided to fly close to the sun causing him to meet a tragic end. In Leonardo da Vinci's note books are his imagination's designs for flying machines. In popular culture, the "magic carpet" ride continues to culturally fuel the imaginary need for excitement, adventure and amusement.
One of the greatest technological achievements in the 20th century was the landing on the moon. The Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to be launched into space on April 12, 1961. On May 25 1961 President Kennedy under political pressure from the Soviet Union in the "space race", before a special joint session of Congress announced his administration's goal to successfully send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. The men that flew these birds were originally tests pilots like Chuck Yeager, who had broken the sound barrier. First came NASA's Mercury program, one man capsules, then the Gemini program, and finally Apollo. From a popular film culture perspective, these men and their spaceflight dreams were made of "The Right Stuff" .
This interpretation discusses a dream of Wally Schirra who was the only astronaut to fly in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Schirra commanded the Apollo 7 mission which he reportedly wanted to name "The Phoenix" in memory of the ill fated crew of Apollo 1. Schirra can be seen as an iconic figure in the cultural history and the dream of spaceflight.
Here is Schirra's dream report (1);
"During my youth my best dream recurred frequently, where I would just lift off from the ground and start flying in the sky. I would fly higher and faster and further than could be imagined. It was a wonderful dream of mine that was accomplished in reality by the NASA space program."
The Real Space Cowboys -or- That's One Small Step for Man
It would be left to the crew of Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Centre to execute President Kennedy's political mission statement and goal for America to send the first human to the moon. On July 21, 1969 Neil Armstrong set his left boot on the surface of the moon saying; "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Schirra co-anchored with Walter Cronkite the CBS news reporting of the moon landing.
The popular Hollywood film "Space Cowboys" which features Frank Sinatra's lyrical version of "Fly Me to the Moon" (music video), would find a literary non-fiction counterpart in Ed Buckbee with Wally Schirra's "The Real Space Cowboys".
1. in Lauren Lawrence "Private Dreams of Public People".