Darn! I’m too old for Space Force
Inspired by Star Trek, Apollo 11, and homemade ice-cream
Space travel is no longer relegated to the realms of Science Fiction or the weird visions of scientists. Crazy writers and rabid dreamers are not the only ones who now see outer space as accessible territory.
The stuff of imagination — childhood dreams, television shows, and movie hits — is quickly becoming a reality.
I was an 8-year-old child of Star Trek, fascinated by the idea of walking on different planets and wandering through different civilizations. My psyche was permanently affected by our family’s Friday-night-and-popcorn viewings of Star Trek. Yes, I was wowed by Captain Kirk, intimidated by Spok, and envious of Lt. Uhura’s costumes, but it was the lure of “the final frontier” that took hold. After the first few episodes of Star Trek, I often fantasized about sitting in a rocket waiting for blast-off to some other world, torn between fear and a new future.
The first moon landing happened when I was 11. Our whole family crammed into our tiny family room, watching the fuzzy pictures. My old, white-haired, wrinkly-faced Maw-Maw clapped her hands in delight, exclaiming,
“Lordy, Lordy! A man on the moon! Whoever would have thunk it?”
My dad made homemade ice cream and sprinkled chocolate shavings into it that hot July day. We were celebrating this amazing event. America had put a man on the moon.
It was “one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” It was also a memorable day in the history of the Johnson family and a permanent inspiration for me.
While I fantasized about space travel, I never had the guts, the scientific brain, or the physical prowess that being an astronaut required. But my appreciation for daring explorations never died. My respect for astronauts never faltered. I hope that each and every mission is a successful one.
Space exploration in popular film
I am one among many who are enthralled with the idea of space exploration. Popular movies have fueled our collective imagination. Consider
Apollo 13: A 1995 Hollywood version of the real-life drama when the Apollo 13 spacecraft was launched in 1970 headed for a moon-landing. An oxygen tank exploded two days into the mission. NASA and the crew had to find a way to manipulate the damaged vessel back to earth. A great cast including Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and many other notables made the story come alive.
Gravity, with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, was released in 2013. It details a horrifying voyage when the shuttle is destroyed and Bullock and Clooney have only each other — and the black and silent universe around them.
The Martian, 2015, is the compelling story of an astronaut — played by Matt Damon — who is left for dead on a mission to Mars. When he awakens, alone and injured, he must figure out how to survive using his scant resources, his intellect, and every ounce of his strength.
They were all movies with heart-pounding action, death-defying feats, and patriotism at their core.
Enter SpaceX SpaceX has made the dreams of space travel into a reality. The privately-held American company, launched in 2002, builds spacecraft and rockets, facilitates launches, and engineers the technology for a space industry of the future.
“RETURNING HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT TO THE UNITED STATES.”
The first launch of American astronauts by an American company — the first since NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011 — takes place tomorrow, May 30th, at 4:22 ET, weather permitting. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be chauffeured via rocket to the International Space Station.
Now we have a Space Force
In case you haven’t heard, on December 20th, 2019, the United States created a special branch of the military to protect and defend outer space.
The United States Space Force, USSF, falls under the department of the Air Force.
“Space Force is responsible for providing resilient, defendable and affordable space capabilities for the nation and the joint force. It is the duty of the U.S. Space Force to protect the interests of the United States in space; deter aggression in, from and to space; and conduct prompt and sustained space operations."
General John W. “Jay” Raymond is the Chief of Space Operations (CSO) serves as the senior military member of the USSF and is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That means that the US Space Force will be responsible for everything from the protection of satellites, the training of future “space professionals,” the organizing of shuttling of materials, and maybe even cleaning up space junk.
It’s like having troops of good to defend against the evil storm troopers!
Darn! I’m too old for Space Force!
It’s an exciting time.
For me, the space program is not a political, economical, or even a scientific discussion. It’s a recognition that humans want to know what’s beyond our world. That mankind will ALWAYS want to go faster and farther and “escape the surly bonds of earth.”
No matter how old I am, I still possess curiosity about worlds outside of mine. I am still fascinated by the future and what it might hold. I still keep my fingers crossed for each launch and send prayers skyward for a safe voyage.
I may be too old for Space Force and NASA, but my spirit soars with them into the future and the vast expanse of space.