He was an astronaut. These men were fascinating to me, as much for who they were as for what they did.
Look--either you think the space program was exciting, or you don't. The consensus of liberal opinion at the time could be summarized like this: you could have a space program financed directly by exploiting the poor, taking bread out of their mouths, or you could forget the space program and eliminate poverty. Jesse Jackson, I seem to remember, was of the latter opinion.
If the idea of a human being walking on the moon or orbiting the earth or exploring far-distant planets is a snooze to you, you're entitled to your opinion. But I found when I was doing research on the lives of African American astronauts that many of them were inspired by the space program. According to Charles F Bolden, a retired Marine general, the first Apollo and Gemini space shots took place when he was a boy and excited him:
I was interested in being an astronaut when I was young, but I didn't think it was possible. I put it out of my mind....
I think every kid has an interest in space.... It makes kids want to study, excites them , gives them a desire to be somebody...and that's something no other program can do.... If we want to look to the future, space is it....And that excites people from kindergarten through college; it excites me.