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Huntsville - Space celebrations
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alIt was was a rainy day, the 12th of April 2016 in Huntsville Alabama. It was the "Day of Cosmonautics", the 55th year of Gagarins flight and the 35th year of the first launch of the NASA space shuttle fleet. What for a day! On this day we did not know that we will see you the last day on our earth. Al, Apollo Engineer Al Reisz, an enthusiast for the Space Exploration, was in his bed at the Huntsville Medical Center.

My collegue and judge Tom Hancock (AIAA) said to me at the NASA Roverchallenge: "Ralf, Al want to see you with your international students in the Hospital". So it was a pleashure for me to come with all 17 students what we had with us. They came from Bolivia, India, Russia and Germany.

Al told them a long story about his life, his fight for the future and our responsibility to push their work - together with all visioneers of this world. In this small room was an increddible silence. Everybody was able to crab each of his words and record it into his mind.

korolevahospitalAl was an enthusiast also for the youth. He was every year a volountair at the NASA Roverchallenge, supported the young people and counted our "best time" as winning team in 2015. He was never missing a meeting what I made with international students and space engineers, also not with the daughter of the russian chief designer Korolev at 50 years Explorer One or as we honored Prof. Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer (former ISS-Director, Apollo Engineer) with a memorial plaque.

Now, Al passed away in summer 2016, July 24th. So a lot of high experienced people went from us, whitnesses from the pioneers time of spaceflight. It is a big loss. We are sad about his death. But we also are knowing that his conversations will still live in our mind and will guide us into the next future of our exploration. Follow the tracks of the forefathers, with their strong rules and core values. Turn around the comfort zone, change the sofa with your shoes and build bridges instead of walls. The view back from space what Al also made with Apollo 8 - teaches us that we are: one world, one menkind and one community.

Al, you was a fighter to reach the stars. Now you are there. Be shure that the international young generation is wishing you a safe flight!


Ralf Heckel,
friend and director of
International Space Education Institute