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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Legendary NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz Has Message for Next Generation: "Dream, Aim High, and Never Surrender"

By Carmelo Turdo
Legendary NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz spent his third day in St. Louis interacting with several hundred middle school students who were part of a special program celebrating the early 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission.  Scale model rockets representing the V-2, Mercury Redstone, Mercury Atlas, Atlas Agena, Gemini Titan II and Saturn V model rockets were launched following a description of each program by St. Louis Science Center Education Coordinator Anna Green and recollections of the U.S. manned space program by Gene Kranz.  The rocket launch program and other events that occurred over the last few days were planned by David Kovar of the St. Louis Rocketry Association.

David Kovar discusses the impending launches with Gene Kranz

Gene Kranz recalls the NASA manned space programs

Middle school students gather to observe the model rocket launches

Model rockets represent U.S. manned space programs

Model rockets ready for launch

Model rocket launcher setup

Model Mercury Atlas rocket is launched

Small model Saturn V rocket launches while larger model Saturn V
rocket simulates the first stage rocket motor ignition

A model rocket was retrieved from a tree

James S. McDonnell Planetarium Director John Lakey,
St. Louis Science Center President and CEO Bert Vescolani,
St. Louis Rocketry Association Vice President
David Kovar and Gene Kranz

Members of the St. Louis Rocketry Association Launch Team

Gene Kranz then met for lunch with eight students who were chosen as winners of an essay contest on the topic of the importance of the lunar landing then and today.  The students seemed to grasp the significance of the opportunity to discuss the technological, political and cultural effects of the Apollo lunar missions with the man who led Mission Control during that momentous historical era.  They presented the main points of their winning essays, and Gene Kranz gave them encouragement to continue to follow their dreams.  His theme was similar to the one he presented to the students at the St. Louis Challenger Learning Center on Thursday: 

"I want these kids to learn to dream.  Set their goals very high.  As they get closer to the goal, continue to raise it up so that they’re never satisfied with who they are and what they’re doing.  They’re always pursuing this process of constant improvement.  And then when they run into roadblocks – things are tough – they just hang in there and never surrender.  The key thing is to get the kids to dream, aim high and never surrender.”

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