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Texas Monthly

Texas Monthly July 2019

Texas Monthly has been the authority on the Texas scene since 1973, covering music, arts, travel, restaurants and events with its insightful recommendations. Above all, Texas Monthly provides its readers with a magazine of the highest editorial quality, a standard that has earned it 10 National Magazine Awards, the industry’s most coveted prize.

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3 min.
the final frontier

EARLY THIS YEAR, I ATTENDED a memorial service for the celebrated Texas Monthly writer Al Reinert, who died last New Year’s Eve, at age 71. I didn’t know Al, but I had long been a fan of his work, especially his reporting on the space program. The service was held at Texas State University’s Witliff Collections, in San Marcos, where Texas Monthly’s archives reside. It was attended by many veteran TM staffers and alumni, including this magazine’s first editor in chief, Bill Broyles, with whom Al cowrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the Tom Hanks movie Apollo 13. Around the same time that Al was being remembered by his friends, deputy editor Jeff Salamon and others on the TM staff were memorializing him in another way, as they selected a handful of…

1 min.
drawing inspiration from heritage and art

In his acclaimed work as poet, performer, and cultural commentator, Texas State University English Professor Cyrus Cassells is always seeking to bring different voices into the spotlight. Winner of a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2019 NAACP Image Award nominee for his poetry, his work is filled with the timeless themes of identity and heritage, love and loss, tragedy and redemption. “Everybody deserves a place at the cultural table, and that’s too often been difficult for women, LGBTQIA, and minority voices. We need diverse views and viable representation at all levels of art and culture in order for our country to heal,” Cassells said. Both as a poet and as a researcher, he is often drawn to languages that help define and preserve cultural identities. His latest book, for example, Still Life With…

12 min.
one small step for mankind

THE PLAN SEEMED PREPOSTEROUS. John F. Kennedy was just 43 years old, and he’d been president of the United States for just four months—a rough four months. So far, his attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro had ended in quick and utter disaster at the Bay of Pigs, and the Soviet Union had beaten the U.S. to outer space, launching cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit and bringing him home onto the Russian steppe. Now here was Kennedy, on the afternoon of May 25, 1961, in front of a joint session of Congress, offering up what his national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, had referred to as a “grandstand play.” ¶ “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on…

2 min.
space, by the numbers

0.5 Percent of the U.S. federal budget that currently goes to NASA. 17 Days the Apollo 11 astronauts were required to spend in medical quarantine after splashing back down to Earth. 2 Number of times the Apollo 12 mission’s Saturn V spacecraft was struck by lightning just after it was launched, on November 14, 1969. 0.078 Amount of memory, in megabytes, installed in the computer used by Apollo 11 mission astronauts. (The iPhone X has a minimum of 64,000 MB.) 6 Number of U.S. flags that have been planted on the moon. 41 Time span, in months, during which all of the manned lunar landings took place (July 1969 through December 1972). 4.76 Speed of the International Space Station, in miles per second. 133 Number of successful U.S. space shuttle missions. 236 Number of people who have visited…

4 min.
a time line of space exploration

4TH CENTURY BC The Greek mathematician Archytas creates a wooden pigeon that is propelled by escaping steam, an early example of rocket technology. 2ND CENTURY AD The Syrian writer Lucian of Samosata publishes A True Story, a satirical novel that includes the first known fictional references to outer space travel. 1232 The Chinese become the first people to use gunpowder-fueled rockets for martial purposes. 1897 The Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky correctly theorizes that rockets can function in a vacuum, unlike other forms of propulsion. MARCH 16, 1926 The American engineer Robert Goddard launches the first liquid-fueled rocket. JUNE 20, 1944 During World War II, Germany’s V-2 becomes the first craft to achieve spaceflight (usually defined as 62 miles above sea level). At the end of the war, many of the German rocket scientists who worked on it were recruited for the…

2 min.
the golden age

THE ROAD TO HOUSTON BY AL REINERT From “So Long, Cosmic Cowboys,” originally published in March 1973 Back in 1961, Lyndon Johnson, then vice president and chairman of the Space Council, and Houston congressman Albert Thomas, chairman, as chance would have it, of the very same House Appropriations subcommittee that passed on the NASA budget, were both laboring on behalf of a Houston site, lobbying the members of NASA’s Site Selection Team who were searching about for a logical (or, barring that, profitable) location for their soon-to-be-funded Manned Spacecraft Center. “The road to the Moon,” Thomas reportedly told NASA administrator James Webb, “lies through Houston.” An unlikely trajectory in most contexts but in the halls of Congress, where Thomas was right on. Houston it would be. LONGING FOR LUNA BY AL REINERT From “Moon Struck,”…