Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reflections on my Birthday, TIME for Kids and Space

My birthday cake (taken by my son Yotam)
It's my birthday today. Nothing round or big, just a solid 38. Waking up on ones' birthday means growing up one day like any other, but becoming one year older has significance far more than that one extra day. The kid in me has a hard time relating to the chum in the mirror with white hairs popping everywhere on his head and face, almost expecting to still see a younger self.

Space is serious business. Many challenges, many triumphs, also tragedies. For me and kids of all ages it's a source of inspiration, even a way to keep the child in me alive. Watching the shuttle launch last year left me, if only for a short time with the uninhibited worry-free joy of a young child getting a balloon. Yes, it takes a lot more to induce this feeling when you've matured beyond balloons and lollipops, but that feeling is still there, waiting to be cultivated and nurtured. TIME for Kids, a TIME magazine for the younger crowd, helps inspiring the next generation.

TIME for Kids April front page
TIME for Kids is a publication my older kids got at school this year here in Washington state. It talks about serious subjects at a level kids can relate to and even adults can learn from.

In the April issue the front page and centerfold were dedicated to the space shuttle program. I wasn't born into the era of reusable spacecraft and leaving all the reasons (politics, economy, etc.) aside I took almost for granted that it would never end. After all, when the first airplane, car, horse carriage or wheel were made the eras of flying, driving and riding started and never ended with the exception of being superseded by a better/faster technology (not the case this time). TIME for Kids mentions the last flight of Discovery and Endeavor as well as shows a timeline of the major events in the space shuttle history on two easy to understand pages. It includes a picture of the last Endeavour's mission crew including Captain Mark Kelly (who a few days ago announced his retirement from NASA).

At the bottom of the page there's a link to which contains a 15 minute video produced by NASA about the space shuttle.

TIME for Kids Shuttle Send-Off centerfold, April 29 2011

TIME for Kids did a good job with this issue by explaining some key accomplishments of the program and the meaning of the shuttle retirement as far as getting a ride from the Russians. They conclude with an optimistic note about breaking off of Earth orbit to the moon and Mars, which I think will end up being carried out by someone other than a government of a country.

At the end of my birthday (which actually ended over ten hours ago in my birth-timezone) I hope that my kids and their generation will accomplish even greater things than what the generation before me accomplished with the space shuttle - building the first reusable spacecraft. I hope my kids generation will build on this feat of technology and create even more amazing vehicles. I hope that the distance traveled with these future vehicles will be more than the comparable of driving around the block thousands of times. Ad Astra!

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