The Two Space Programs, (August 7, 2014)
by Michael Goodwin

    When I was a teenager in the 60’s, I was enthralled by the American space program. It was a race against those other evil countries to see who could reach the moon first and claim it for the forces of freedom or the Soviet dark side. That was, of course, how it was painted for us young people at the time, and we were definitely for our guys. I eagerly anticipated every space launch and I was glued to the TV set every time the astronauts went up into space. In 1966 the Gemini program was just finishing up and the Apollo program, which would land us on the moon, was in full swing.

    However, in 1966, another space program started up, and I was once again glued to the TV set and equally fascinated by what I saw. In those early sixties almost every kid I knew was space happy. I even wrote to NASA and received a packet with photos of all the early rockets and space vehicles. I probably still have them somewhere, buried in a file of old things. A friend and I used to build missiles with our own mixture of rocket fuel, (homemade gunpowder). Looking back at it, I am utterly amazed that we didn’t blow ourselves up. Actually, none of our rockets ever got off the ground more than a few feet. (I guess I needed some aerodynamics training and sadly, our high school didn’t include that in its curriculum.) But, I digress….

    Back to that other space program, which was Star Trek, of course. Here was a wonderful visualized shortcut to space on our new color TV. We had jumped several centuries into the future and we were actually exploring space, (and still fighting those evil… Klingons). In 1967, when the Apollo 1 cabin fire killed its crew and caused a year long delay in the space program, I still had my beloved Star Trek to feed my space habit. When the U.S. landed on the moon in 1969 and Star Trek ended, my attention finally was taken over by the new challenge of a college education and my interest in both began to wane. But, as my artistic abilities grew, I started to revisit my early loves.

    The painting on the left is the first space walk during the Gemini program. It was painted in gouache as a portfolio piece and is almost solely responsible for getting my first job out of college at the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the planetarium I met many other space enthusiasts and science fiction fans, (and my beautiful future wife, Lynne). There, among the other employees, I discovered to my delight that Star Trek was alive and well - living through its fans. I started painting pictures from the old series that I had spent many happy hours watching on TV.

    The painting on the right is a very early Star Trek painting in acrylic, (with a bit of southern Utah landscape thrown in for good measure). They say you should never look back, but I disagree. My past is filled with things that I fell in love with, (especially Lynne), and you should always go with what you love whether it is painting Star Trek, space, or anything else imaginable, you will never regret it, I haven’t.


Space programs