One Giant Leap
When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. That incredible dream of shooting off into space was shattered when I watched a rocket launch on TV. I was too young to have a clear recollection of what launch it was. I’m guessing it was around the time of Skylab. I remember watching what I now know was a Saturn rocket on television lifting off with, I believed, a single astronaut on board. After all, a rocket is tall and stands upright like a person. With no scale reference, I just assumed the person going into space stood upright inside this tube-like thing designed to exactly fit a human. Boy, was I surprised when the TV showed the first stage separate from the rocket. I was terrified. Already certain that someone was standing in the rocket, it was clear that in order to get into space, the astronaut’s legs would be jettisoned from the ship. No way was I going to let NASA do that to me. Someone else could be an astronaut. I was going to find a new career path.
I clearly know a lot more about rockets now. I know they’re much taller than a person and that to fill it the astronauts must be standing on top of each other.
What I know even more about now is lunar overshoes. That is, the boots worn by the astronauts that walked on the moon. And that’s because we just made one. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to walk on the lunar surface, the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC hosted a late night event for the public, and we were invited to participate. At 10:56 PM Eastern time on July 20, 2019, the same time Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon, a 12-foot long Airigami recreation of Armstrong’s lunar boot touched down on the first floor of the museum.
Armed with only photos provided by the Smithsonian, Kelly started by building a model of the boot out of craft foam before translating everything into blueprints for the balloon version.
Thanks to Marsha Gallagher, TJ Michael, and Jenny Henry for working with us to help make a boot to celebrate the historic event.