MOTR, Ep. 66: Voyager, the Little Space Satellite That Could. And at 45, Still Can

NASA's 230-foot Goldstone satellite dish (Credit: NASA)

Many years ago, as a little boy, I waited with my father a very long time in a very long line on a school night for my 10-second turn to peek through a large telescope and see up close the distant pristine beauty of Saturn and its crisp, brilliant rings.

It didn’t change my life. But it did supercharge my imagination about the wondrous unseen things very far away in Space. Ever since, I have followed news of space and its risky explorations.

I never really wanted to go there, just to see and hear and learn what it’s like in the distant reaches where Earth is a tiny, twinkling dot like all the stars appear from here.

I set out one very dark summer night with a large sheet of paper, a crayon, and a flashlight to make a map of the stars hovering above our rural Ohio backyard. After some time, I complained that they kept moving.

“No,” Dad said, “We’re moving.” I was stunned.

Space does that to you if you really think about its vast scale. I grew to like being stunned by every new not-so-little discovery — for instance, Earth is spinning, but it’s also hurtling through that vastness at eight miles every second. It has never been in that exact spot before and will never return to that exact spot.

I remember hearing the stunning beeps of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, on the school loudspeaker. When Neil Armstrong took Man’s first steps on the Moon, I was at New York’s Kennedy Airport beneath a Jumbotron, interviewing people watching that history unfold.

I was working on a French-language newspaper in Bruxelles the summer of 1962 when Chet Huntley went live on Telstar I for a few minutes to show the world iconic scenes from America. That was stunning.

The editor rushed up to me for a photo caption: “Is this Mount Rushmore in Dakota du Sud ou du Nord?”

I tracked 134 Space Shuttle launches until a kindly editor dispatched me to witness and blog about the last one, Atlantis, on July 8, 2011. I was three miles away when it cleared the tower and still felt the plume’s heat.

One long-running space story has been the twin tales of the tiny Voyager satellites. They launched in 1977 to explore deep space, space that is so distant it is far outside our solar system.

But before that, Voyager 1 photographed Jupiter and  Saturn, among others. And then, one of my favorites, the famous Blue Dot photo when Carl Sagan suggested turning Voyager around and snapping a shot of Earth from four billion miles distance. It’s now nearly four times as far away.

Voyager has even sent home the eerie sounds of deep interstellar space.

It’s still going after 16,718 days. And still loyally calling home every day. Now, that’s stunning. I share some thoughts.

The most recent audio commentary examined the political phenomenon of Donald Trump, who took an escalator to the lobby of Trump Tower eight years ago this week and began leaving an indelible imprint on American politics. He still is. A lot of RedState people clicked in to hear that audio commentary.

The most recent Sunday morning column had some fun looking at the most likely losers in the 2024 Republican primary field.

One caveat: That’s as of now. One of the more intriguing things about U.S. politics is how it reflects our rapidly changing society. Early front-runners like now rarely end up as winners, while most apparent losers actually do lose. Except for one or two who make a serious run deeper into the campaign.

I want to thank our VIP subscribers for their loyalty and steady support of RedState and, by extension, my writing. And appreciation too for the lively comments that regular MOTR readers are leaving below each week. I’m looking forward to this week’s.

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