CARTHAGE — Retired NASA engineer Manuel Rodriguez visited the Sammy Brown Library in Carthage this past week to tell children in the summer reading program all about the history of the space program and his role in it.
Rodriguez began working at NASA in 1965 and stayed there for 33 years. He was part of the team that helped prepare the first astronauts to go to the moon.
“When the first astronauts walked on the moon ... before they could do it, there was a lot of things that NASA had to do to learn,” Rodriguez said. “Remember, nobody had ever done this; they didn’t know. Most of us that worked on this program were in our 20s. Our senior management was in their 30s, and we just never doubted that we could do this. We always felt that failure was not an option. Problems have solutions. We may not like the solution, but they do have a solution, and so we had this mindset of ‘We can do this.’”
Rodriguez, alongside his wife, Jacqueline, spoke about what went into creating a lot of the things that astronauts needed for their trip out of Earth’s atmosphere, including the suits they wore and the rockets they took.
The presentation included pictures of astronauts and space shuttles, along with real-life props such as the packaged food astronauts had to eat in space, the material the space suits were made of and the calculating tool that engineers had to use before advanced enough computers were invented.
The Sammy Brown Library will continue its summer reading program, “A Universe of Stories” until the end of July.