Did You Enjoy the Ride?

by Roger Pynn

So I’m a certified space junkie.  As children, my brother and I would climb atop our roof on Orlando’s east side – much to our mother’s chagrin – armed with what today would be called “toy” binoculars so we could watch Alan Shephard become the first American in space in 1961.  And we did the same when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth.

Had the skies been clear this morning, I could have used a pair of binoculars that also included a high resolution digital camera to take pictures of Orion as it lifted off, but because it was cloudy we just sat back and watched that magnificent behemoth of a rocket not just until it disappeared across the Atlantic, but we rode it all the way through a four and a half hour adventure.  As NASA Flight Director Mike Sarafin said from Mission Control in Houston, “While this mission was unmanned, we were all aboard Orion.”

And that’s what makes Orion a subject for our blog about targeted communication.  The U.S. space program has driven the creation of technologies and tools we use every day and take for granted as if they were toasters in our kitchens … and, yet, they enabled a communications revolution whose horizon appears endless.  NASA has mastered the use of those technologies not just to monitor performance and safety, but to be sure that taxpayers and politicians have a seat in the cockpit and get drunk on the excitement of each and every mission.  Kudos to them!

And to the rest of us … what fruits of their labor will you take advantage of next and why in the world would we not want to push the boundaries of space if it can produce such incredible technologies?  I only hope I live long enough to climb up on my roof to watch a team take off from Cape Canaveral and land on an asteroid … or even Mars.

Of course, I’ll probably see it from the comfort of an easy chair on some tool no one has yet invented but which came from an “aha moment” aboard some future Orion mission.  Maybe I’ll be able to chat with the crew.

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