Humans have been journeying to space my entire life, although I was not quite old enough on July 20, 1969 to have clear memories of when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.
My memories of the big moments in space exploration that followed, including the six lunar missions that followed Apollo 11 and the 1975 Apollo – Soyuz joint orbit, are much more vivid.
I remember as a nerdy teen tracking the descent of Skylab in 1979 with pushpins on a map.
I remember as a first year university student in 1984 following the flight of the first Canadian in space, Marc Garneau, and two years later hearing in the cafeteria that Challenger had blown up – and watching the news coverage on the common room TV in our residence, which is what you did during a big event in the days before social media.
I remember holding down the weekend desk at a radio station on Feb. 1, 2003 and delivering the news that the shuttle Columbia had burned up on re-entry.
And, I remember thinking in 2018 that launching a car into space was pretty dumb, then coming around to acknowledge that SpaceX and its enigmatic founder Elon Musk are masters of the reality that in an age when space launches don’t get the wall-to-wall media coverage they used to, a little showmanship goes a long way.
I’ll confess to becoming a bit jaded about space launches over the years, but like a lot of us who remember the missions to the moon, I’ve been immersing myself in the history of NASA’s Apollo program in the run-up to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
And I’m rediscovering how improbable, cool and awe-inspiring it all was.
My memories of those days come to me in grainy black and white TV transmissions and images of the models experts used as visual aids while explaining the mission to the audience.
Nick Proach of Sechelt got his start in professional model making building some of the models used for those TV broadcasts, and the company he and his wife Connie founded in 1994 has created replicas for museums, planetariums, collectors, and even an astronaut or two.
I first met Nick in the early 2000s when he was advocating for a better highway for the Sunshine Coast, and it wasn’t until some time later that I learned about his day job and the amazing local business that keeps the allure of spaceflight alive in miniature.
On July 17, Proach Models is opening its doors to the general public to help celebrate the Apollo 11 anniversary. Click here to read the story.
Seeing Proach’s recreation of Tranquility Base and a model Saturn V rocket that stands a head taller than Kawhi Leonard may just be enough to get the space enthusiast in you that’s become a little jaded since the “giant leap for mankind” in the summer of 1969, looking up and getting excited about Artemis, NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024.