Of all the stuff going on in our world, the thrill of the 2012 Olympics, the heartbreak of recent and senseless shootings, and all the bad news from around the planet, one of humankind’s greatest achievements just happened a few days ago when NASA managed to successfully land the largest man made craft ever on the planet Mars.
I’ve been a space geek since the very beginning. Yes I’ve been around that long and I remember October 4, 1957 when the Russians launched Sputnik. I remember the X-15, The Mercury Project, Gemini, and the Apollo missions. It really came alive for me when John Glenn orbited Earth on the Friendship 7.
My brother Steve and I were so inspired by those 3 earth orbits of the Mercury-Atlas 6, that launched on February 20, 1962, we made a spaceship out of the box our new refrigerator came in that Mom and Dad had just purchased. We practically lived in it for weeks. We made switchboards with lights, used our crystal radios, we took turns talking to each other via the walkie talkie we made from a RadioShack kit from our space capsule to other rooms in the house.
We followed absolutely everything there was about space and NASA. It was a world stopping event anytime there was a lift off into space and we were eyes glued to the television for any news about it. We couldn’t get enough and to fuel our dreams of space we became avid fans of Star Trek (that aired on September 8, 1966), and almost any sci-fi series or movie after that (good or bad) that made an an attempt to hold up the idea of being out there in the last frontier.
Now, this week, I witness the Curiosity landing on Mars this past Monday. After a journey of over 8 months, traveling a little over 154 million miles, the Mars rover Curiosity entered this martian atmosphere and with only 7 minutes to go through some of the most complex choreography ever performed they came from 13,000 miles an hour to zero to land safely on the surface, and they did it! Is that not a WOW!
Radio from the rover takes 14 minutes to get from there to here, so if anything did go wrong it would be at least 7 minutes way too late to do anything about it. Yet, it went flawlessly. This is a great testament to our human purpose, aspirations, and the skills of our civilization.
Humans are an insatiable curious species. We always do better when we look way beyond ourselves to the horizon and seek that which is bigger than ourselves. NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratories (and all who were part of making this happen), my hat is off to you and with gratitude. You can follow the Mars rover Curiosity on Twitter: @marscuriosity
Great win! Thanks for keeping my childhood dreams alive! And I wish this mission every success.
Anyway, the real estate possibilities are endless, right?