Z is for Also Sprach Zarathustra

Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 – Strauss

Richard Strauss composed this stirring music which introduces Stanley Kubrick’s  2001: A Space Odyssey.  It is followed by Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz as a space vehicle circles the earth.

One family story I wanted to confirm or deny concerns Australia’s first astronaut, Philip Kenyon Chapman.  I was told and always believed that he was part of the family and descended from Eva and Robert.  Looking at his birthdate of 5 March 1935 he could be a grandson but however much I have searched I can’t find a connection AND time is running out.

In the 1960s his story filled me with excitement as space travel was tantalisingly close.  I have decided that whether he is related or not I will tell his story because it is an interesting one.

Before heading off to be an astronaut Philip was involved in the 1958 Australian National Research Expedition in Antarctica,  receiving the British Polar Medal.  Born in Melbourne, his parents moved to Sydney and he attended Parramatta High School.  He learned to fly at the University of Sydney, as a member of the University Squadron of the RAAF.  His uncle Norman was active in the aviation industry and helped establish many outback routes for QANTAS.

220px-Astronaut_Philip_K_ChapmanThe Australian Womens’ Weekly of Wed 6 Sep 1967 has a feature article on Philip Chapman, saying that he will be the first Australian to orbit the earth and quite possibly the first to land on the moon.  Aged 32 at this time he is described as a soft-spoken, pipe smoking physicist.  He had just been appointed a scientist-astronaut in the U.S. Space Program.

He said, “To land on the moon is the dream of every astronaut.  To be realistic, though as a scientist-astronaut rather than a pilot-astronaut, I can expect to be assigned  to orbital flights concerned with research rather than with lunar landings.”

Philip applied for  American citizenship in 1961 because he knew he had found his life’s work and it meant spending the rest of his life in the United States, where space research was so advanced.

His wife retained her Australian citizenship.  “If I am killed”, said Philip, “I would like to think that Pamela would feel free to go home to her family.  If she took out U.S. Citizenship she might find that more difficult to do.”

Dr. Chapman was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in August 1967. After initial academic training and a 53-week course in flight training at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, he was involved in preparations for lunar missions, serving in particular as mission scientist for the Apollo 14 mission. Because of the lack of spaceflight opportunities for scientist-astronauts in the 1967 intake, Dr. Chapman left NASA in July 1972.

chapman_philip_2In 2003 Philip Chapman wrote:

The Failure of NASA: And A Way Out

by Philip K. Chapman

Sunnyvale – May 30, 2003

I was in Mission Control when Neil Armstrong announced that the Eagle had landed. The applause was unexpectedly muted as we were all overwhelmed by the significance of the moment. Nobody had any doubt that Tranquility Base was the first step in an expansion into space that would drive human progress for centuries to come.

We had of course all seen the 1968 Kubrick/Clarke movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the facilities depicted there seemed entirely reasonable. In our lifetimes, we expected to see hotels in orbit, translunar shuttles operated by commercial airlines, and settlements on the Moon. Only the alien monolith was questionable.

None of this has happened.

Phil ChapmanPhilip Chapman is still living in the United States and has led a busy, active life despite not having gone into space.  He worked with Peter Glaser, inventor of the Solar Power Satellite and has been involved in the development of space based solar power.  He is now retired but still publishing opinion pieces, some quite controversial, on scientific issues.

The more I read the more I doubt we are related.  His father’s name is Colin and his uncle is Norman.  Those names have not appeared in my version of the Robert/Eva Chapman family tree.

Oh well!  Another myth shattered. Not that it matters.  It has been fun exploring the stories of my family but I will be very pleased when this last post goes up and I can sit back and relax with a glass of  Sieur d’Arques Aimery Crémant de Limoux Grand Cuvée 1531 that I have been saving for the occasion.  That’s what it says on the bottle so I will try it and see if it lives up to its grand name.

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6 thoughts on “Z is for Also Sprach Zarathustra

  1. It is still great to read his story and if someone else is searching for a similar family connection you have it out there. They can then contact you with any new evidence they have about the family. The connection might be “way back”.
    A to Z Theme: Sharing Family History via #GenealogyPhotoADay By Fran from TravelGenee Blog

    Liked by 1 person

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