All of the sudden, regular civilians are going up into space. Well not really “regular” folks in the way most of us are, but people who are not trained astronauts. Mostly billionaires and classic TV icons so far, but expect that to change in coming years as space travel finally gets commercialized.
My maternal grandmother (my Memere) was born in 1899, several years after the invention of the automobile and four years before the Wright brothers went airborne and changed the world at Kitty Hawk. She used to call cars “machines.”
She would eventually drive those machines—although she gave it up in her elder years—but she never set foot on an airplane and never had any desire to leave terra firma. I guess there was no place she wanted to go bad enough, and she figured if she did she could always hop on a train or a ship.
I’m sure that when Memere was a younger woman, mostly wealthy people traveled on airplanes because it was probably a luxury only the privileged could afford. So by the time it was relatively affordable to the middle class, in her old age, she was like, Nah. She never felt that her life experience was missing anything on account of it.
I am my Memere when it comes to space travel. I will never go up into space, don’t feel any need to, and I will die perfectly happy never having done so. Even in the eventuality that you don’t need to be a millionaire to afford it. It’s enough for me to see other people doing it on the news and live vicariously through them. I don’t see the point. There is nothing I need to prove.
Star Trek actor William Shatner, who recently left Earth’s gravitational pull at the ripe old age of 90 (God bless him), euphorically declared upon his return that “everyone” should do it. No Bill, “everyone” shouldn’t. I feel about being launched in a rocket like I do about sky diving: It’s not on my personal bucket list, but to each his own.
There are so many other things I could do with precious money and time, like traveling to a country I have never seen, or visiting a National Park like Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons. There are whole parts of the western United States I have never seen, not to mention the majesty of places like British Columbia and Alaska. I have never done an African safari or been to the Galapagos Islands.
Space is for the jaded, favored few. There are so many wonders to behold right here under our feet, and so little time.
Photo: U.S. National Park Service