Thursday, July 14, 2005

Earth below us, drifting, falling

Spock's Log has a post about the failed shuttle launch. Well, the post starts out about the launch but then goes deeper into NASA's problems. I was saddened by the post, even though I know where he's coming from. Like him, I grew up a fan of space travel. I went to Cape Canaveral, I joined a huge crowd just to watch a plane carrying a shuttle prototype land, and I had a NASA patch sewn into the arm of my jean jacket in junior high (shut up).

I think I inherited my love of the idea of space travel from my mother, who applied for the Teacher in Space program. She was crushed (although not surprised) that she wasn't the one who got to go in the Challenger, but she was incredibly excited for Christa McAuliffe in the months leading up to that launch.

January 28, 1986 was a teacher workday, so my mom was at her school doing administrative stuff. I was at my father's house, doing homework in my room. I had the radio on, and I thought I heard the DJ say something about the Challenger blowing up. I knew that couldn't be right, so I ran downstairs and turned on the TV in the family room. They were showing the footage. I couldn't believe my eyes. I felt sick inside. And I selfishly thought of myself, and of how glad I was it wasn't my mom. I picked up the phone and called my mom's school, because I knew she'd be there. They paged her to come to the phone, and I had to break the news to her. Her reaction was one of disbelief (as was everyone's at first).

"What? No. Are you sure?"

"Yes, Mom! Go turn on a TV!"

For years after that, I wondered if she had stopped dreaming about going into space. We certainly didn't talk about it anymore. Then, in 1997, the movie Contact came out. Without even talking to my mom, I knew that she had seen the movie and had completely identified with the burning desire of Ellie Arroway to be sent into space. To this day, I know that if space travel did become the common means of travel we thought (and hoped) it would be, my mom would be one of the first people in line, shuttle ticket in hand. I'd be right behind her.


Blogger liz said...

Man. I am just speechless.

11:10 PM, July 14, 2005  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

I would have felt the same way, I think, terribly sad though it is.

I keep hoping that one day we'll be able to travel into space. Have you read Dan Brown's Deception Point? It talks a lot about NASA and it made me so sad because it discussed how much money they spend and the arguments against it.

9:59 AM, July 15, 2005  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

The federal government wastes SO MUCH money on so many stupid things -- I don't understand why people pick on NASA -- unless it's just that anti-intellectual resentment about money being spent on smart people.

That song came up in the shuffle 5 minutes ago. Spooky!

11:43 AM, July 15, 2005  

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