"Earth’s distant orb appeared the smallest light that twinkles in the heaven; whilst round the chariot’s way innumerable systems rolled and countless spheres diffused an ever-varying glory. It was a sight of wonder: some were hornèd like the crescent moon; some shed a mild and silver beam like Hesperus o'er the western sea; some dashed athwart with trains of flame, like worlds to death and ruin driven; some shone like suns, and as the chariot passed, eclipsed all other light." From "Queen Mab" by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1813)

Monday, 26 April 2010

John Keating Space Experience

I was queuing in the British Heart Foundation bookshop when I saw this in the LP rack. Obviously I had to have it.
My record player is still in the box from when we moved but I found somewhere online to hear the tracks and not only does it sound great but I discovered there is a volume 2!!! On this first volume, the front cover shows astronaut Dave Scott during a stand up EVA (spacewalk) during the Apollo 9 mission. The back cover is also from the Apollo 9 mission, being a shot of the CSM (Command and Service Module) whose call sign was Gumdrop taken by the crew of the LM (Lunar Module), whose call sign was Spider.
Why did the crew, Commander Jim McDivitt, Command Module Pilot David Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart, choose these names for their spacecraft? The CSM was so called because of a combination of its shape and the fact that it arrived at the Kennedy Space Centre covered in its blue protective wrapping from North American Aviation who built it. With the LM’s call sign Spider, the crew once again named the craft after how they perceived the shape of the vehicle. There was a serious side to spacecraft having names as it avoided confusion during communication between the two spacecraft and Mission Control. This was the first time NASA manned spacecraft had names since Gemini 3’s Molly Brown; however, the NASA public relations people were not too happy about these less than serious names. Following the Apollo 10 crew naming its craft after Charles M. Schulz Peanuts characters (more about that in the next blog) the NASA people got their way for more serious sounding names for future craft.

Another important step on the journey to the first lunar landing, Apollo 9 had its own firsts, being the first manned flight of the CSM together with the LM. The crew spent 10 days in low Earth orbit in March 1969 (launch 3rd March, splashdown 13th March) during which they were the first crew to perform a manned flight of a LM. To do this they had to dock the CSM with the LM and extract it from the Saturn booster, also a first. After testing the LM in flight, McDivitt and Schweickart then docked with the CSM where their colleague Scott (the original Scotty?) the CMS Pilot, awaited their return; so this was also the first time that two manned vehicles docked in space. The crew also carried out a number of other tests critical to landing men on the moon including Schweickart’s EVA wearing the new space suit with a backpack life support system designed for lunar EVAs.

John Keating, like many others, was obviously impressed and inspired by all of this. "John Keating Space Experience" contains space age versions of "I Feel The Earth Move", "Rocket Man" and the Star Trek theme alongside some of his own out of this world compositions like "The Unknown Planet", "Prelude To Earthrise" and "Space Agent". His album stands as a testament to not only the cutting edge music of the time but also in its use of Apollo on the album cover, it celebrates the progress of mankind as we reach for the stars.


  1. I suspect that John Keating was not so much 'inspired' as 'cashing in'. His previous album was probably 'Waikiki Tiki' and the Space ones were followed by 'The Flower-Power Groovy Love Album'. Probably.

  2. Don't, you're spoiling the mood music.