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Sarnia: 3 Links To Space
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Sarnia: 3 Links To Space

A man on the moon, WOW! shades of Flash Gordon. I remember that evening very well. I was living in Port Franks at the time and as I recall I was partying in Grand Bend. I suddenly remembered that the lunar landing was scheduled for midnight that night. I realized that I would never be able to reach home by that time. Luckily I had a younger brother, Dave who was living in the Bend. I went over to his house and I had to drag him out of bed so I could come in and watch the landing. I was amazed that he had no interest at all in watching that historic event.

Dave wasn't pleased with my getting him out of bed but he let me in to watch the landing. The picture was quite grainy and was difficult to see much detail but I could clearly hear those historic first words by Armstrong "A small step for a man.... a giant leap for mankind!" Little did I know at the time that the voice of Cap Com in Houston, belonged to Sarnian Owen Maynard. Earlier editions of the Sarnia Observer had pointed out that Owen Maynard had been instrumental in everything from designing spaceships to helping to pick out the lunar landing site.

In fact Mr. Maynard had worked on the original Mercury program that first put Americans in space. Later he was chief systems engineer where the command and lunar modules for the Apollo program were created. NASA awarded him with two distinguished service medals for his work on the Apollo 8 and Apollo 11 missions.

Sarnia's second connection to space is one that people world-wide should be very familiar with. That would be James Doohan, the illustrious engineer of the USS Enterprise, of Star Trek fame. How many nights have we spent glued to the front of our TV sets to hear Captain James T. Kirk, aka William Shatner, another Canadian, from Montreal, utter those now famous words, "Beam me up Scotty!" Scotty held the rank of lieutenant commander and served as the Enterprise second-officer and the Enterprise's miracle working engineer. Always managing to save the Enterprise from some calamitous fate at the very last moment.

Although millions of people world-wide remember that famous phrase "Beam me up Scotty" It was never used in any live episode of Star Trek, according to Wikipedia, although it is used frequently in the animated series. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, however, Kirk does say "Scotty, beam me up." Doohan attended high school at the Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School (SCITS), where he excelled in mathematics and science. In later years he suffered from ill health and in 2004 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

James Doohan died On July 20, 2005. A portion of his ashes were launched into space.

That brings us to our third connection to space. Colonel Chris Hadfield, the current commander of the International Space Station which is orbiting the earth as we speak. Commander Hadfield, is a native of Sarnia and is the first Canadian to walk in space. Sarnia has changed the name of the local airport to the Chris Hadfield Airport. Chris attended the King George Elementary school in Sarnia, maintaining a close connection with the students there. Leaves from the schoolyard trees have circled the earth with him.

Chris speaks three languages, English, French and Russian. He has spent time teaching and training with Russian Cosmonauts in Russia.The Sarnia Observer has tracked Chris' career for more than 32 years including his time as a top fighter pilot from 1985 to 1988. Chris has also flown the Hawk One, a saber jet which tours Canada with the Snowbirds, he has flown it on several occasions. Chris will undoubtedly be spending some of this summer with his family on Stag Island, in the St. Clair River just south of Sarnia upon the completion of his mission. I am sure that Sarnia wishes you a successful mission and a safe return to earth.


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