One of our great American heroes, John Glenn, has died. And I would be remiss if I did not mention a wonderful movie about Glenn and other astronauts of the 1960’s Mercury project, The Right Stuff (1983).
News articles remind us that Glenn was the first American astronaut to circle the earth. In thinking of this accomplishment, I come back to a harrowing scene from The Right Stuff:
Glenn (actor Ed Harris) is in space, about to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. He tells Mission Control that he sees what looks like “fireflies” through the window of his capsule. The technicians at Mission Control realize that what the astronaut is viewing are probably pieces of the capsule’s heat shield burning off, because it may have been partially detached.
Those of us who remember the tragic demise of the Columbia space shuttle know what that means.
The recommendation from Earth is to not jettison the retrorocket package attached to Glenn’s capsule, thus adding extra security for re-entry. Keeping the package requires that Glenn manually maneuver the capsule through re-entry.
Here’s the sequence:
You can purchase the DVD of The Right Stuff at the following link: