At the end of 1985 I wrote a letter to NASA with a project I had worked on at school of the solar system. They wrote me back thanking me for my picture and sent me some images, one of the Challenger team that wouldn’t make it come January 1986. Since they were so nice I would draw them other pictures and show them some of my homework about space, letting them know how much I wanted to be an Astronaut and they in turn wrote me back with more photographs and support of my dream to go into space. This relationship with NASA and our correspondence together lasted until 1992 when they offered me 1/2 off at Space Camp, I was a straight 1 honor roll student and all I needed was permission and the rest of the funding. We couldn’t afford to let me go, with one working parent taking care of four of us, it just wasn’t possible. Too sad to write them back I stopped.
Schools had taken most of my images for their class rooms and since NASA would sometimes send me packets of information, the schools had taken most of that. I was young and didn’t know how important it would all be one day and I thought I was being helpful. 10 years later I would still have an inch of photographs and papers until it was lost during one of my many moves. Often times I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t let go of my dream or if I had held on a bit tighter to our letters.
The end of the shuttle program is pretty emotional for me, personally so. I actually hadn’t found out until recently that is what was happening and then my heart mourned and cried out for the loss of it. What will children do now that reaching for the stars is impossible? I always told my children, “You can be anything you want to be, you can even be an Astronaut!” It was the epitome of greatness, to be in a field that goes beyond what the human mind is capable of imagining. The wonder of what is beyond the limits is lost now, for our country at least and in a time when everything seems as though it is falling apart with our schools, our economy, our jobs… it is difficult seeing the one beautiful program we made to show that we were capable of anything, that the impossible was possible; that anything we imagined could be…. be over with the loss of over 8,000 more jobs; our Astronauts are not only grounded, they’re unemployed.
The dream has ended and reality is always a tough pill to swallow. Take care Atlantis, come home safe.