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When Is My Moment?

Aries I-X Test Launch

In July, as the anniversary of the first moon landing approached, everyone around me was atwitter with excitement remembering exactly where they had been when the witnessed those first steps. "I was out for ice cream with my parents." "My parents let me stay up late." Everyone remembered with great joy the moment their eyes first registered that giant leap. Their faces would light up and their smiles would widen as they shared their story with others around them. I realized these moments were huge. They were inspirational. They marked these individuals in a way that impacted their life. For some, it was inspiration for their educational path.

I eagerly listened to each person recount their moment and then began thinking...I don't have that moment. Sure, I have moments but they are not moments that make me smile or that I look forward to recounting with my children. They are moments of great sadness and tragedy. They are planes flying into towers and space shuttles that don't return.

There are multiple generations of people who don't have that moment, starting with mine. I often wonder if it is too late for me. Our knowledge in science and technology expands exponentially...at rates my grandparents cannot comprehend. Has technology advanced to the point that we are just not surprised by the advancements anymore? Are we, as a people, so used to these advancements that none of them are memorable anymore? Perhaps our priorities have shifted so that we are just not as enthralled with the exploration of space as we once were.

Surely that is not the case. Surely we have just not had the moment. In the months since July, my mind has wrestled with those ideas versus the hope that surely there is still more to come. Today I had my first glimmer of hope in my ongoing battle. I sat at my desk watching NASA TV live and listened intently to the engineers in launch control as they prepared the Ares I for the first test launch. Old footage flashed through my head...Redstone rockets being tested...preparations for the first American in space...the unsuccessful moments and those that still bring tears to our eyes.

As I sat there I realized, this could be the start of my moment. They are testing the first phase of a rocket that could potentially put a human being on another planet. This test may seem small to most of the world, but I understood the impact of this day. It is the beginning of my luna somnium...my moon dream.

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