I laughed at this video. I smiled when Curiosity landed and Mission Control celebrated but it was bittersweet for me, accompanied with a sigh of regret. You see when I was a child I felt I was promised manned space travel. Ya know boldly going to other places, not just going out to the back yard to float around for a bit.
I adore Bobak Ferdowsi but he can’t remember watching men repeatedly land on the moon. He’s only 32. I watched his mission team celebrate and thought most of them didn’t see that first hand. Men going to some thing in space is either history and science fiction for them.
I get it. I know it’s better to do it this way. More cost effective to scope it out with robots and all. Yet, I was raised on Capt. Kirk and watching moon landings. Honestly you can’t tell me if we’d pushed as hard to go to another planet as we did to beat the Russians to the moon that we wouldn’t have been there by now. I mean we already had our natural satellite under our belt in just a few years. I honestly thought we’d be launching to go to other planet’s moons from our own by now.
As a kid I bought those dreams that National Geographic published of lush paintings showing what space colonies would look like. Something happened on the way to that place, just like it did for Allentown. We never quite got there. Instead we grew up, we became practical, and put our money in more earthly pursuits. I won’t even debate what ones were worthy of it and what ones weren’t. We did it, it’s done. I know that’s how life goes. You turn right to pay the mortgage when you could have turned left following the dream while living in a tent by the side of the road. I don’t fault NASA for it. Heck I don’t fault us for it. We made choices for good, bad, or indifferent.
It’s just that when I watched those who never crowded three classes into a classroom, dropped the blackout blinds, and watched a the only large black and white TV in that end of the school pick up a snowy picture of people walking on rocks that were NOT ON THIS EARTH… celebrate seeing their remote car do it I felt cheated. Cheated by growing up, cheated by being an adult, cheated of going off this planet to another, cheated of a childhood promise. It was just a wistful sigh for what the 7 year old me thought space travel would be when I was closing in on half a century on this planet.
I watched the younger Mission Control celebrate thinking they can’t even imagine just imagine how hard my 7 year old heart beat with excitement to see a HUMAN do it. They don’t know. They can’t get it. They never believed that promise of “this is just the start – in your life time we’ll…” never set foot off this planet again. No, that was not what they were telling me, but I wish they had. Because then, maybe then I could feel the same thrill Bobak felt.
I’ll have to settle for the enjoyment of watching them celebrate wildly. Don’t get me wrong I read every article I see on what Curiosity is doing. I love the images and jokes made from them. I’ll still breathlessly follow Space X and NASA hoping that maybe I’ll see another human, this one now as much younger than me as the astronauts I watched were older than me, go somewhere in space. I firmly believe we can to do it. We can solve those problems of deep space travel. I know we can because I have a Dick Tracy tv-phone crossed with Star Trek tricorder in my purse right now. I still believe the promises, I just don’t think I’ll live to see them fulfilled. So now I’m hoping for a holodeck here on earth.