Last week I found myself sitting in a seat, from which Lockheed Martin scientists control the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter. I continue to reflect back on that moment, feeling the immensity of time and space between the deceptively mundane Dell keyboard and monitor in front of me there in Deer Creek, Co, and the relatively small space craft dutifully orbiting the red planet, currently over a hundred million kilometers away. Behind me, on a pillar, was a quote from the author of “The Little Prince” Antoine de Saint- Exupéry.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and assign them tasks and work; but, rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
There is a lesson here for the human race, for where and why we focus our imaginations in order to compel each of us to live up to the best that is in us. I continue to marvel at the transformative ability of our longing for space.
I also met the engineers who have created the In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) machine. This is a machine that extracts iron oxide soils like those found on the Moon and Mars, and converts it into oxygen. I reached out my hand there and touched it. Trying to peer into the future. The pieces are coming together. We may yet become a space faring civilization before the Earth is destroyed. I expect you will one day be there, Dylan, with your sister beside you, watching the tiny dot of the Sun rise and set from a humanity-transformed Martian landscape and atmosphere.
I hope your Mom and I can be there with you too, even if only in dreams.
Live long and prosper,