I pulled my car into my lot today, and as I walked over to the mailbox, I passed three young kids from the apartment complex. One of them asks me, “do you work for NASA?!”
(There’s a NASA meatball sticker on my car bumper.)
“I used to,” I told them.
“Wow! What did you do when you worked for NASA?”
“You know the new Moon rover?” I reply. “It has six legs with wheels on the ends, and a bubble on top for the astronauts to sit in.”
“I helped work on the suspension system for those wheels – so the rover can climb over big rocks while it drives.” My hands were crabbing their way over imaginary Moon boulders.
“That is so cool!”
People in this country generally fall into two categories: those who love NASA, and those who think NASA needs to be even more ambitious and capable than it already is. In media, the phrase “NASA scientist” lends a researcher more weight than the simple moniker “scientist.” NASA means achievement, technical wizardry, and the impossible made possible. The entire organization is about the best and brightest coming together to make small steps into giant leaps.
NASA doesn’t fly people on its own spacecraft any more, and one of the greatest NASA heroes just departed the Earth for the last time. But the mere mention of the Space Agency still enthralls these kids in my parking lot. Let’s make sure that legacy continues.