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Thomas Dahl

I became interested in the space program when I was in grade school in the 1960s. I used to collect newspaper and magazine articles in a bulging blue folder (wish I had that folder today!). The pace of development during that era was just astounding. I was fascinated. Apollo 7, three-man crew in Earth orbital flight. Apollo 8, first manned Saturn V, first manned trip to Lunar space. Apollo 9, lunar module in earth orbit. Apollo 10, lunar module in lunar orbit, down to ten miles. Apollo 11, lunar landing. All that in the space of nine months! It was heaven.

During high school I was very keen on astronomy, and became quite familiar with the night-time sky. My little 60mm Alt-Az mount telecope was pretty limited, but I got a lot out of it from my Madison, Wisconsin, USA back yard. Winters were cold! I built a stellarium (i.e., a planetarium without the planet projectors) for my high school, which was quite effective. It was briefly described in a September 1978 Sky and Telescope article. Drilling the 1600 star pinholes in the main projection globe was rather tedious!

While I was still living in Wisconsin I saw the ASTP pair sail overhead one evening in 1975. A few years later attending college in Iowa, I watched the first Space Shuttle liftoff on television. (I really admire John Young's astronaut career -- six missions including the first manned Gemini flight, two Apollo trips to the moon including a landing, and that inaugural Shuttle flight.) I have never seen a launch up close in person; that's a goal for some future day. I've observed shuttles, Mir, and the ISS pass overhead a number of times in the last few years.

I have been a software developer for 24 years. (Think of the vintage Apollo on-board computers, compared to something like today's wrist-watches!) As a hobby, I helped to write a flight simulator which employed a true 3D universe model. In addition to dozens of aircraft, I created an Earth, Moon, and Saturn V model for it, and enjoyed many hours spent in real-time orbits and landings. I left the simulator running in the background on my workstation for a week, seeing how the orbit went -- quite well.)

I have been married for 21 years, and have a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son. We currently live in Massachusetts, except for my daughter who attends school in Texas. My recent interest has been in assembling lunar panoramas from Apollo still frames. Much thanks to Eric Jones here at the ALSJ, and to Kipp Teague for his Project Apollo Archive. Oh, to have had the Web forty years ago!

-- Tom

August 2005