Ever since I was a boy, I was amazed by spaceflight and counted astronaut among my possible career paths will into my teenage years. In the spring of 1995 I was given the amazing opportunity to spend a week at Space Camp in Florida. I still have many very fond memories of that time from the activities that I took part in and the history that I learned.
I won’t go into all the details because I could write about that week for hours, but I was amazed at the training that the first astronauts had to go through to get a chance to be some of the first humans in space. Much of this training was simulated at the camp and I got the chance to experience heavy g-forces, simulated weightlessness, and even a simulated space walk to service a broken satellite. Of course, astronauts had to be smart and resourceful as well and we worked in teams to run shuttle missions, build model rockets and even design a space station which we then had to “pitch” to the entire camp.
It is truly sad that so many of these original pioneers of space are no longer with us and we must always remember what they did for the exploration of space. As we look at where we are today, I am amazed that the human race has placed devices on many of the planets in our solar system and even succeeded in propelling things completely out of our solar system. Looking forward from here, I am a bit fearful of the commercialization of space exploration with corporations getting into the race, but excited to see the potential for space flight becoming as regular an occurrence as a jet flight is today within the next 50-100 years.
Take a moment to think of all the great explorers that have helped further the human race, from Erikson to Polo, from Columbus to Magellan, from Lewis and Clark to Gagarin, there is no shortage of people who have risked everything up to and including their lives to move the human race forward. Think of all these folks today and thank them for helping us get to where we are today.
Then take a moment and think just how much farther we have to go…