Anna Leahy and Douglas Dechow, authors of “Generation Space: A Love Story,” tell twin tales of their history as a space-obsessed couple and of the nation’s enduring fascination with planetary exploration. Both are employed by Chapman University and will speak at Literary Orange on April 1.
ON GENERATION SPACE
Leahy We define it as anyone born after Sputnik and before the first shuttle launch. Basically, Oct. 4, 1957, through April 12, 1981. (Apollo 8’s 1968 “Earthrise” photo) is the first time we saw Earth framed from outer space, so we were able to see ourselves and our place in the universe with human eyes for the first time.
ON THE SOVIET LAUNCH OF SPUTNIK 1
Leahy It’s important to note that we weren’t born when Sputnik went up, though we felt the effects of it.
Dechow Children might have looked up and been filled with wonder at the notion that there was something orbiting over their heads, but their parents did not have the same reaction. There was now a new way to strike terror in the hearts of human beings and possibly win a war, and that was launching nuclear weapons with ICBMs.
ON SPACE AND POP CULTURE
Dechow All you have to do is look at recent movies to see the impact. Another “Star Wars” film, “Passengers,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Arrival.” … To be perfectly honest, “Star Trek” had a much greater impact on me than “Star Wars.” I love “Star Wars,” don’t get me wrong. But “Star Trek” is a foundational part of my cultural and intellectual makeup. And like many scientists, I point to “Star Trek” as a reason I became a scientist.
ON SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR
Leahy Endeavour was the first space shuttle that we saw in person. That was in November 2008. We had just moved to California.
Dechow An important part of the story is this first trip out to Edwards Air Force Base to see Endeavour land took place on a Thanksgiving weekend, and Thanksgiving has special significance for us. We started dating on a Thanksgiving weekend in college, and we were married in Las Vegas on Thanksgiving, a year after the Endeavour trip to the desert. It has always been a big deal to us. We felt like it was a way for us to start over as adults.