From Nashville to the Moon and Back
The phrase "space race" brings to mind a time in world history when the next great frontier was above our heads and among the stars; a competition between two competing Cold War nations (the United States and the Soviet Union) to see who could reach the farthest and achieve the most in spaceflight capability. It began in the mid-to-late 1950s, when the Soviet Union responded to the United States' announcement that they intended to launch artificial satellites, by launching their own and the first into orbit on October 4th, 1957, with Sputnik I. Also beating out the United States, the Soviet Union followed that achievement with the launch of Luna 2 in 1959 (the first space probe to hit the moon), and then launching the first human into outer space in April, 1961. But the United STates was not far behind, with the creation of NASA in 1958, the first American man in space in May, 1961, and of course - the eventual first man to walk on the moon in July, 1969.
While Nashville was not at the forefront of any of these achievements, the city has not been silent in the age of space exploration either. For the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and also in collaboration with Nashville Public Library's summer reading theme of space, Metro Archives is displaying an exhibit on Nashville's impact on space discovery. This exhibit is highlighting a few of Nashville's contributions, starting with the recordings of astronomical events by the U.S. Army's Signal Service in the late 19th century to the career of local doctor-turned astronaut, Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon. The display is currently in the West Reading Room, inside Metro Archives.