ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It was 52 years ago today that the Apollo 11 spacecraft touched down on the surface of the moon. Alan Caffey, head instructor at the Morgan Jones Planetarium in Abilene, was 7 years old when that monumental event was broadcast to all the nation.
“I was the kind of kid where my parents got me to do my homework by saying if I finished I could watch Star Trek. So space has always been an exciting thing for me,” says Caffey.
He’s been able to take that flame for space travel and scientific exploration and share it with the young scientists of today.
“What keeps me coming is the kids. I love watching them get excited about learning things and being able to succeed at something,” Caffey said.
Where he had the Apollo crews stepping out into the final frontier, today’s children can watch privately owned space programs like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin venture out in hopes of normalizing commercial space travel.
Bezos’ ship, piloted remotely and inhabited by a crew of civilians, made the first successful manned trip to the edge of space with no pilot just earlier Tuesday.
“It’s cool, three minutes of weightlessness, so they just barely reached that level where they can call themselves astronauts,” said Caffey.
Caffey is able to use the Planetarium to contextualize this achievement as well as the past 50+ years of space exploration for the inquisitive minds of today.
“I can show concepts. I don’t have a rocket ship, but I can fly them from Abilene into space,” Caffey says.
He says he hopes that the frontiers of today will be just as exciting for them to pursue.
The Planetarium has public shows each month, which can be found on the AISD website.