Imagine this: in space | Columns



My wife Abby and I watched the countdown and take off of Inspiration4 atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday night, the very first fully civilian mission to orbit Earth.

I grew up watching the “Space Race” and I have very influential memories of sitting in class in first grade in November 1969, watching Apollo 12 fly to the moon.

Readers of a certain age know what it looks like: A large black-and-white television is rolled around the classroom, held on its three-tiered metal shelf with casters by elastic cords or duct tape. The “rabbit ears” antennae point towards the ceiling. The teacher periodically adjusts the antenna to brighten the signal.

I remember being absolutely stunned by the sight of the Apollo 12 Command and Service Module (CSM). That, I remember thinking, “It’s a rocket!” “

Even the wealthiest schools could not afford a VCR in 1969. At this time in television history, videotape was in its infancy. We either watched it when it was on TV or we missed it.

So, I watch spacecraft launches when I can. They represent the smartest and most ambitious of us.

There are many different perspectives on space programs, past and present; that it’s a waste of money, that it’s become too commercialized, that it’s dangerous. Certainly, these things are true to some extent.

My point of view is that space programs have always inspired me. Each time we explore, we are growing. Hopefully later this year NASA will finally launch its James Webb Space Telescope, which we all hope will give us more clarity on the nature of our universe.


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