Friday, March 6, 2015

The Birth of A Space Enthusiast - To The Moon!

The origin of my love of space is a bit of a mystery to me. My parents grew up in the dawn of the Space Age and the proliferation of science fiction. Some of that must have rubbed off on me. We watched Star Trek together (especially The Next Generation and Voyager) and we even attended a Star Trek convention. I borrowed books from their collection and fell in love with the Dune series by Frank Herbert, inappropriate reading for a kid but still my favorite series of all time.

In elementary school, I was captivated by an inflatable, mobile mini planetarium that was temporarily set up in the gymnasium. At some point, my parents gave me a little telescope which I set up on our back deck and front driveway in well lit suburbia, seeking glimpses of the Moon and Mars close-up. The first time I remember seeing the Milky Way clearly, I was 11 or 12 years old, on vacation in rural Texas outside of San Antonio. The beauty of the night sky was mesmerizing to me.

In a journal that our teacher required us to keep about our daily lives, something must have prompted 8-year-old Laura to write about going to the Moon. I knew Neil Armstrong's name, even if I couldn't spell it. We must have learned about Apollo 11 in school. This short entry in a third grader's journal is the first written proof of my love of space.

December 2, 1992

If I went to the moon I would see the flag that armstong put on the moon. I would see moon rocks and people jumping into the air. I would see people wereing space masks. I'd see stars. I'd see a space ship.

My space love continued in middle school when my parents sent me to Space Camp for the first time at age 13. From there, one thing after another snowballed my passion into an unstoppable force.

My fascination with the Moon has always been a constant. While most of the space community focuses on Mars as humanity's ultimate goal, my personal goal is a little closer to home. The Moon has always been there throughout my life, my beacon in the darkness, the orb that reflects the Sun with such captivating beauty. The Moon is a world to explore, barely touched by our brief visits. Others can have space stations, others can have asteroids, others can have the red planet. My heart has always called me to Luna.

When I moved back to Florida at the end of 2009, Constellation was the active program at NASA, and I just couldn't resist sharing my love with the cars behind me. This plate is still on my car today.


  1. I hope you have continued your desire to return to the Moon despite Constellation being cancelled.
    Perhaps being in commercial space you'll agree that it can be done orders of magnitude more cheaply by following the commercial space approach:

    The Morpheus lunar lander as a manned lander for the Moon.

    Bob Clark

    1. The canceling of Constellation was disappointing but also predictable. I was bummed, but not surprised. I do believe that the commercial space industry will be able to return humans to the Moon even if NASA doesn't. For a very short time, I did some work with a company called Golden Spike whose goal is just that. I also follow the Google Lunar X-prize competitors with the hope that maybe their robotic landers will be a first step.

  2. I'm glad you weren't old enough to be affected by the Challenger disaster. That happened in my junior year of high school and permanently altered my own trajectory. I still did two years of aerospace engineering at CU Boulder, but ended up switching to computer science, as aerospace seemed totally dead in the early 90s. I'm still looking for a way back in in some kind of software capacity, but if I could go back now... :)

    J. Scott Farrow

    1. I'm sorry to hear Challenger negatively affected you in such a way! From my point of view, they could have shut down NASA while I was in college and I still would have pursued astrophysics and a career in the space industry. I'm crazy like that. But having a computer science background must have served you well over the years.