My Hypothetical Journey To Space
What would keep you from taking NASA (or any space program) up on their offer?
One Can Dream
To venture into space we must be strong-willed and determined. We must be fully committed to its exploration and discovery; space permits no half measures and is unforgiving of mistakes.
-Henry Joy McCracken-
At some point, every child dreams about being an astronaut. They look up into the sky at night and wonder what it would be like to touch one of those things that keep winking at them. In school, they learn about other planets and are filled with both fear and excitement. For me, it took being told by my oldest brother about the 1986 Challenger disaster to make me decide to leave space exploration to braver souls.
Yet, given the chance to go to space, I would go. Once you realize that people who live a simple, harmless existence are just as susceptible to death as less cautious people, you begin to wonder why you hesitated in the first place. Yes, space travel is still a gamble, but so is crossing the street after dark. I wouldn’t become a professional astronaut, but I’d fill in on one mission were I needed.
I imagine walking to the shuttle, weighed down by my gear, the theme from Armageddon playing on a loop in my head. As I’m about to enter the shuttle, I’d salute the people who are staying behind. (I don’t know if this is even done, but I feel like it’s something my five-year-old self would demand I do.) I’d get into my special seat and, with butterflies going wild in my stomach, I’d try to calm myself down. At this point, I imagine a far more experienced crew member would smile at me and I’d respectfully nod at them, non-verbally declaring how much of a privilege and an honor it is for me to be on board. The door would close, and the countdown would begin. I’d say a prayer and try not to think about the people I was leaving behind. As trained to do, I would do my tasks, making sure my role in the mission was done properly.
When we’d get to our destination, I’d look out at the landscape and try to find similarities to Earth. I’d be overwhelmed with emotion, trying to take in all that my eyes could handle. I would wonder if this was the way Earth looked billions of years ago before we made it ours and did with it what we did. Realizing that war, violence, bigotry and hatred didn’t exist here, I would find it hard to return back home. When you see a planet that is so untouched and full of possibilities, you don’t miss luxury.
On second thought, perhaps, given the chance, I shouldn’t fly into space. After seeing all that I imagine I’ll see, I can’t imagine going back to Earth. Knowing that such a planet existed above me, I would never be able to enjoy the good things our planet has to offer.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2009 L A Walsh