I was born the year they started construction on NASA’s OV-102 or as we knew it better the Space Shuttle Columbia. 4 days after my 7th birthday they launched it’s first operational mission. (For those keeping me honest there were four prior test flights). I have been fascinated by space as long as I can remember. It is a subject that fascinates me every time I hear a new story on NPR, or see an article that pops up on one of the myriad news feeds I follow I become engrossed. It is not the Star Wars or Star Trek geek in me either (though my wife will confirm I fall securely in that category). It is the unquenchable learner within that gets excited.
Earlier this year we waited up in front of our computer with our two little boys to watch the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity (@marscuriosity). We talked about what it meant to be able to do that and what we might learn from it. Since then we have had quite a few discussions about science and discovery and what is still out there for us waiting to be learned. I think that is why space fascinates me because out there lies so much that is waiting to be learned.
So back to the space shuttles… For my whole life we have been sending men and women into space, to learn more to touch just a little more of the unknown then we previously have. I can’t wait until we start sending people again, because I want space to be as real to my children as it has been to me.
Before we ventured off into parts unknown (Illinois) we had heard the news that the Endeavor was headed to Los Angeles to be part of the the California Science Center (@casciencecenter) as a permanent exhibit. I figured that since we were leaving so many friends and family behind in SoCal that we would be sure to see the exhibit on one of our trips. Sure enough we pulled it off on our first trip back thanks to my Father-in-law who apparently wanted to see this just as much as I did. To say it was an awesome experience wouldn’t do it justice. We could go through that exhibit many more times and I think we would still learn something new on each trip. My boys were fascinated on exhibits that showed how the Astronauts ate, how they go to the bathroom (yeah seriously!), there is even a mock up of a mission control center where you can watch the first 10 minutes of a shuttle launch the way they do in Houston.
…and then you walk into the building that houses the shuttle…You can’t help but be amazed about how big, and yet how small it is. The boys and I walked along the perimeter of the building reading about the various different missions during the 30 years we have been sending shuttles into space and we were amazed that even though it is huge in comparison to us and that it is basically a cargo space with wings and a cockpit that everything we learn and know and do in space right now has been put together by only the equipment and supplies that they can fit into that ship. It takes really smart people dedicated to learning and discovery to fuel the infinite imaginations of today and generations to come with only what they can fit in such a finite space.It was fun to talk about the different things that were happening in my life and their lives as we made our way along the shuttle timeline. They found the missions that happened around the time I was each of their ages, They found the mission that happened just days before my wife and I were married, and then they found the first mission that happened during their lifetime. It was interesting that both of the missions were flown in the Space Shuttle Discovery. My oldest said that is why he likes science so he can discover new things. My youngest said that is why he likes to do adventures.
What ever the reason this “Dadventure” was so good for me to live this little moment with my kids and share something that was inspiring to me and see it inspire my children. As we are taking these first few steps into a new year, may we do so with just a little of the spirit that causes each of us to stretch our arms a little farther that we might reach distant places and far off goals, that we might endeavor to discover who we might be instead of complacent in what we are.
Happy New Year Everyone!