The sky calls to us

Outside of the building where the space shuttle Atlantis is on display at Kennedy Space Center, this quote greets visitors:

I’m spending the rest of the week in Florida as part of the NASA Social program, covering Sunday’s SpaceX CRS–7 launch.

I applied a few weeks ago, while in San Francisco at WWDC, and was excited to learn I had been accepted. I drove down yesterday, and spent the day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, where I saw Atlantis and lots of other bits of NASA history. The actual program kicks off in the morning.

I’ve always felt a connection to the space program. While I was born on a tragic day in space history,[1] I am in no way unique in my interest in all things NASA.

As I was walking around the various exhibits I visited today, I couldn’t help but notice how excited many people were about what we were seeing. There were kids standing on their tiptoes, trying to stretch to be tall enough to see into the visor of the vintage space suits. There were old men who clearly remembered the news coverage being played back for education purposes. People were taking photos, asking questions and genuinely learning.

I wasn’t alone in my nerdiness, and that was a nice feeling.

The glories of the universe are breathtaking on their own, but when coupled with the grit and grind required to climb on top of a live rocket to go explore them, the whole business becomes truly inspiring and heroic.

That’s the crux of it. The space program takes the best qualities found in humankind and couples them with the best technology we can build. That’s exciting, and with a return to the Moon and a manned journey to Mars on the horizon, I no longer have to be jealous of the generation that watched those early astronauts answer the call Carl Sagan identified.

  1. Some of you are feeling really old right now, while others of you can’t believe how old I am. Time is weird.  ↩