Hi. My name is Dan. I’m an engineer born and raised on a spaceship. A spaceship that’s whooshing through the emptiness of space. This particular spaceship is robust and fragile at the same time, barely understood in its inner workings, and yet unbelievably beautiful by design. This spaceship is called planet earth. Most it’s crew is trapped on it and being held in place by the pull of gravity. Only a selected few have ever left the earth seen our blue, marvelous marble from afar. They went to space, turned around, and looked at earth in awe. To each and everyone one of them something magically happened in that very moment. When they came back their lives had been changed forever. They started to think bigger. They became more humble. They, more than everyone else, understood that we are all one global, fate-sharing community. Living on a spaceship. Whooshing through the emptiness of space.
Welcome to episode 1 of “On My Way To Space”. A podcast about a journey beyond imagination.
I’m not an astronaut. I’m not even a pilot. Let alone a rocket scientist. I’m a child at heart and an avid dreamer. I honestly believe that going to space is an achievable goal within my lifetime. And once I’m there I will turn around and look at the earth in awe, ready for the magic to happen. Until then, I have to rely on imagination and reports from others.
In 1632 Italian astronomer, physicist, and engineer Galileo Galilei wrote:
If you could see the earth illuminated when you were in a place as dark as night, it would look to you more splendid than the moon.
I don’t know for sure, but I guess it is safe to assume Galilei never went to space himself. That makes it even more impressive that the often called “father of observational astronomy” got it surprisingly correct. That’s the power of imagination!
The first human who went to outer space was Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet Air Force pilot and cosmonaut. He described in great detail what he saw 1961:
What beauty. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear earth…. The water looked like darkish, slightly gleaming spots…. When I watched the horizon, I saw the abrupt, contrasting transition from the earth’s light-colored surface to the absolutely black sky. I enjoyed the rich color spectrum of the earth. It is surrounded by a light blue aureole that gradually darkens, becoming turquoise, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black.
At that time the so-called space race between the United States of America and the Soviet Union was gaining speed. Only eight years later, Neil Armstrong, United States astronaut was the first person to set foot on the moon. Seeing his home planet from roughly 230.000 miles away was a special moment for him:
It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
In the following Space Shuttle era more and more astronauts had the chance to go to space. One of them was the U.S. Navy test pilot Donald Williams who said:
For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us.
Of all the reports, descriptions, and impressions we have from the courageous men and women who made it into space my favorite one is from William McCool. McCool was an officer, test pilot, aeronautical engineer and, of course, an astronaut. As the pilot of the Space Shuttle Columbia on it’s STS-107 mission, sadly, he was killed when the spacecraft disintegrated during re-entry into the atmosphere. I can’t get his words out of my head as they sum up my expectations just perfectly:
It’s beyond imagination until you actually get up and see it and experience it and feel it.
From William McCool’s words I learned that actually going to space makes all the difference: It’s a full-body, full-mind, all-of-heart-and-soul experience. Being in space and looking at the marvelous marble we call home is beyond imagination. I can’t imagine it. I need to see it for myself, experience it for myself, and feel it for myself. I have no choice but to go to space.
For a long time, Space seemed to be inaccessible and out of reach for common people like me. But is it really, today?
- Aren’t there lucky billionaires building rockets and commercializing space?
- Aren’t there several companies actively working on opening up space for tourism?
- When can I go buy a ticket? What will it cost? Do they accept bitcoin in earth orbit?
- Will there be wifi on the spacecraft? Would I want there to be wifi?
- What are the medical requirements for flying in a rocket? Do I need to ramp up my physical fitness? Maybe I should lift more in preparation for lift-off?
- What’s the closest thing to being in space that I can experience here on earth?
Time for me to do my research. I’m on my way to space. Get on board and be part of a journey beyond imagination…