Today I have completed 40 circuits around the Sun. It’s been a good ride. 😉 I look forward to *at least* another forty! I was raised a geek by my parents; my mom says I saw Doctor Who the day I was born, on the TV in the hospital, because the BBC had a feed in Washington, DC for the diplomats stationed there. (Yeah, Tom Baker was my first Doctor, and while I have thirteen favorites now, it’s true that you never forget your first Doctor. I’ve even made a replica scarf.) When we moved to Minnesota, what luck, because KTCA was airing it too! It was a wonderful time. And we watched “Star Trek”, which had moved to the big screen, and of course “Star Wars”; one of my earliest movie theater memories is “The Empire Strikes Back”. Monty Python, Hitchhiker’s Guide, Time Bandits, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, The Last Starfighter, the Black Hole (saw that one at a sleepover), Flight of the Navigator, War Games, Explorers, Goonies, Transformers, GI Joe, JEM and the Holograms, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite….so many memories there. And space!
I got into space from an early age too. And science in general. My dad’s a big geology and astronomy nut; we’d go rock collecting on road trips, and he showed us all kinds of things through his telescope. And you know how lots of little kids have a video they just want to watch over, and over, and over again? Well, mine was a NOVA special about the Voyager mission, produced shortly after the Saturn encounter. I can’t find a copy of that special, and would really love to see it again. It made me fall in love with the Voyager mission, and thereby with spaceflight in general. Having loved “Star Trek: the Motion Picture” only made it better, of course, what with V’Ger. 😉 And I remember reading a book when I was in first or maybe second grade, checked out from the school library, about spaceflight. It mentioned that Viking 1 landed the day I turned one: July 20, 1976.
So space has always been big for me. And I think it always will be. It dovetails perfectly with my love of Doctor Who; it’s all about exploration, curiosity, and finding out what’s on the other side just because we can.
In my first forty years, we’ve gone from landing probes on Mars to a continuous human presence in space, a continuous robotic presence on Mars, solar orbiters providing 360 degree coverage of the Sun, simultaneous orbiters around Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth, Moon, and Saturn, a spacecraft that has orbited two different asteroids, flybies of every major planet, and now a flyby of what we all grew up calling a planet, Pluto…. And even the discovery of a genuine habitable solar system. Not a hypothetical one, a confirmed one.
Given all that, what could the next forty years contain? What *couldn’t* they?