Skip to main content

25 Years, A Moment in Time

"Daddy, what happened?"
"It blew up, honey."

My sister was five and she was the first to speak. I was seven and knew I was going to be an astronaut. We were in Florida on vacation and the shuttle was supposed to launch while we were there. My awesome parents drove us from our condo in North Palm Beach to the Cape, not once, not twice but three days in a row as the launch continued to get scrubbed due to cold weather.

I remember the instant the shuttle blew up, watching it from the side of a nearby roadway, and I knew exactly what happened. I remember the crowd gasp. And I remember my sister pulling at my father's arm and being the first in the crowd to say anything. I remember being annoyed, as most typical seven-year old brothers tend to get, when she asked a question I knew the answer to. I remember the look on my parents' face. I remember feeling sad. But most importantly, I remember how proud I felt and how much more I wanted to be an astronaut that day.

Today, I reflected on how did being there affect my life. Most obviously it kept my passion for space alive and two years later, in July of 1988, I went to SpaceCamp. Later, as I neared the time to begin planning what I would do after high school, my parents spent countless hours researching the path to NASA including how to become an Air Force pilot and how they could get me the most prestigious recommendation they could to earn me entry into the Air Force Academy. In the end I didn't choose that path and instead chose a path into computer science, thanks mainly to the effect of Jurassic Park.

Reflecting on the "what-if" of becoming an astronaut, as a now parent of two, I'm blown away by what my parents tried to accomplish for me. What an amazing thing, to have someone on this Earth who would go to any lengths possible to get you the right foundation to make your dreams come true instead of to laugh and scoff and say "sure Brian, an astronaut". And I'm blessed to have two, and now for the past decade I've had a third person too.

The other thing I've realized is the coincidence that this year is the 25th anniversary of that day, and also the year the space shuttle program will end. As my wife and parents know, for the past few months I've made it clear that I will be taking Penelope down to Florida to see the next and penultimate space shuttle launch. If Wally was older and able to appreciate it I'd bring him too because I want my kids to experience, at least once, the wonder of watching a manned spacecraft launch to the heavens and the imagination it sparks with that tangible discovery that anything really is possible. The symmetry that mine and Penelope's first launch will be 25 years apart had escaped me until today and the thought is bittersweet because who knows when, or if, she and Wally might see another launch of a manned mission to space.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

3D Photo Viewer for Looking Glass

The Looking Glass I created my first Chrome extension, which is now live on the Chrome Web Store ! It's built for the Looking Glass , a holographic display that let's you view three-dimensional objects without glasses. I've also opened the source to the extension on GitHub. The Chrome extension allows you to view Facebook's "3D Photos", a feature they added in 2018 for displaying photos that include a depth map like those from phones with dual cameras, such as Apple's "Portrait Mode". Getting Started To use the extension, connect your Looking Glass to your computer, navigate to Facebook and open the viewer from the extension's popup menu. This will open a browser window on the Looking Glass display's screen in fullscreen mode. Opening the Viewer Once the viewer is open, the extension watches for any 3D Photo files being downloaded, so browse around Facebook looking for 3D Photos.  I recommend some of the Facebook groups de

My Journey to Fitness, a 5K, and my first Triathlon

At the finish line My name is Brian and Sunday I became a triathlete. My journey started ten months ago when I decided to get back into shape after 15 years of being obese and out-of-shape with some yo-yo dieting in the middle. What changed? I'll get to that. This weekend I competed in the first ever Rocketman Florida Triathlon which took place on the grounds of Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. In preparation I lost 50 lbs and 12 inches from my waist. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm a huge space buff. As a kid I wanted to become an astronaut. I went to Space Camp in Titusville when I was 10. Before that, I saw my first shuttle launch at 7 while on vacation. It was the final launch of the Challenger. I've written about that experience . I've seen three other launches since then including John Glenn's famous return to space as well as the final launch that ended the U.S. Shuttle Program. The idea of biking on the restricted grounds

TeamCity build triggering by GitHub

So I started using GitHub for a side project and discovered their very cool feature of service hooks. A service hook allows a repository administrator to setup a callback to another service when a commit is made to the repository. For example it can send an email, or chat a message via Jabber. Now continuous integration servers, like TeamCity , can poll source control systems every few minutes to see if any changes have been committed. But wouldn't it be more efficient to use a service hook to trigger a build? Looking at GitHub's service hooks, there wasn't one already available to callback a TeamCity server, but right on that same page was a link to the open source repository for GitHub Service Hooks . They "eat their own dogfood" so to speak and make it very easy to contribute new service hooks back to them. So I took an evening, did my first Ruby coding in a while which included more time getting Ruby setup and working on my Macbook than actually coding.