Our main mission in going to Titusville, Florida was to go to the Kennedy Space Center, which looked in its brochures like a combination space museum and amusement park.
Ryan’s said many times that if he had the wealth of Richard Branson, he wouldn’t hesitate to drop a large fortune on the opportunity to view Earth from Space. So it seemed impossible to be in the same neighborhood where so many historical space shuttles launched, and not visit the Space Center.
I nearly choked on my sweet tea, though, when we arrived to Kennedy Space Center and discovered admission cost $50 a person. But since we’d already paid for the cab ride there, and would have to pay for the ride back regardless, we pushed aside the question of how many Bota Boxes $100 could buy, and went inside.
And it turned out to be a good decision. The Kennedy Space Center wasn’t at all an amusement park, and it was much more than just a museum with a field full of rockets and plaques. It was an inspirational testament to what humans can achieve through extraordinary vision, determination, innovation and the unfaltering belief that anything is possible.
It kind of blew my mind to experience in a small way the historical timeline of what NASA Space Engineers have accomplished. They took barely conceivable concepts and what were Sci-Fi fantasies of the time, applied Physics (and a lot of government funding), and made these concepts a reality. And to give you an example of the dedication required, it took twelve years for the hundreds of thousands of NASA engineers and employees to successfully launch the first space rocket. Twelve years!
There were two quotes in particular that stayed with me throughout the day:
“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? …We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” -John F. Kennedy (September 12, 1962)
That idea that we choose to do things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard” kind of epitomizes what I feel is the spirit of adventure and exploration. It’s about finding limits and pushing past them for the reward of stimulation, fascination and new understanding. It’s why I run marathons. And it’s why I want to sail around the world. It will be hard, no doubt, but I will see, learn and experience so much in doing so.
“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.” – Robert Goddard
It’s hard to fathom the ways incredibly lofty missions like “send a man to the moon” might connect to our everyday lives. But the number of products that have made their way into common use because of Space technology kind of brought that home for me. Things like polarized sunglasses, flat-screen TVs and solar panels were developed because of NASA’s work creating new materials.
And, in fact, we’ve just purchased a state-of-the-art Solbian flexible solar panel for Hideaway, which we are going to sew into the top of our dodger. So, we will soon find out what it’s like to have a modern piece of energy-saving technology on board.
It remains to be seen how well this incredibly thin, very expensive, 125-watt solar panel will work for us, but I’m very optimistic. All I can hope is that it buys us many sunny days floating on anchor without having to start our engine.
And when that happens, I’ll know who to thank: NASA.
What do you think the “reality of tomorrow” is that we have yet to imagine?