Space, the Final Frontier

Rob Ferguson

Growing up in the 60’s, I rode a trike with white wall tyres, listened to the Beatles on a crystal radio and consumed science fiction comics for breakfast. (Not strictly true-I consumed loads of Fruit Loops, but you get my point — typical kid).

Science fiction, though, that was a big part of my youth. Like millions of kids, I was dazzled by the American/Russian space race and anything involving jet packs, silver jumpsuits and friggin’ laser pistols.

The captain of the ship was always Cliff or Straker, his co-pilot Tanner or Biff. If there was a female on board her name had to be Barbera. From Flash Gordon to Lost in Space, UFO and Star Trek, a shiny future in outer space was not just promised, it was coded into our DNA.

So on July 20 1969 I was close to peeing myself as our class filed down the road to watch The Landing on a neighbours TV. After arranging ourselves in a half circle before the set, we eventually quietened down as he appeared at the top of the module ladder, the first man on the moon, the guy with the laser pistol. Neil.

Neil.

What kind of name was that? Not only did this guy resemble our local newsagent, the lunar module could have been the dust bag attachment on my mums Hoover.

To make things so much worse, the second guy to step foot on the surface was Buzz Aldrin.

Buzz.

Now there was a guy to buckle up beside Flash and Straker. A man called Buzz.

But oh no, Neil was first because Neil had the straightest back and his logbook was the neatest. (You know, typical Neil shit).

The whole experience was traumatic for me. In one moment, I went from goggle eyed space cadet to middle aged cynic and now it’s fifty years later and I can see our first Mars landing with awful clarity.

Huston: ‘OK, Supercheap 1, we have you down on the surface. Looking good’.

(Background cheering)

Craig: ‘Copy that. No sign of any green men. Over.’

Huston: (Dry chuckle) ‘That’s good to know Craig. Over.’

Craig: ‘Thought you’d like that Huston. Commencing plasma drive checks then all good for a walkabout. Over”

Huston: ‘Copy that Supercheap 1. Jaxlyn, proceed to engage stabiliser hubs for commencement of Mars Walk. Over’

Jaxlyn: ‘Shit Huston, that’s Craigs job. He got to step out first so HE stabilises the hubs. Over’

Huston: ‘We read you on that Jaxlyn, but Craig’s at the surface now, and it’d be a lot quicker if you could manage it. Over’

Jaxlyn: Blow it out your arse Gary. I know that’s you down there. Put Amber on, she knows the deal.’

As a famous ships’ doctor used to say, ‘Oh, the pain, the pain’

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