Two evenings ago I watched with excitement at the test flight of Richard Branson’s Spaceship Two, the private Virgin Galactic spacecraft that will later this August, hopefully, take Branson and his two children on a suborbital flight. I found a few more background articles about his plans, including the first year booking price for commercial passengers ($200,000), the second year price reduction, contingent on success the first year ($100,000) and the possibility of third or fourth year prices as low as $50,000. The videos of the test flight were as spectacular as I expected.
This morning I woke up with some of those ideas still percolating in the back of my brain, when I had an apotheosis of sorts. My forty something son has mentioned often that he would mortgage his house in a heartbeat to go into space. Five years from now my granddaughter will be twelve, and if Branson’s dream unfolds as planned, two members of my family will go into space.
A number of years ago I went on a genealogy kick, and traced my eight great grandparents back to the 17th century (four Irish, two German, one French, one English). In all of our family history our son and his daughter will be the first to leave the earth, if only for a suborbital flight. Somewhere in a trunk full of family memorabilia, there is a letter from my father written to me while on a trip, talking of how some day I might go to Mars. I’m sixty-five now, and that’s not going to happen. In fact, I’m not sure I would want to go on any sort of spaceflight at my age.
But the knowledge of my descendants doing so, leaves me with a memory of Walter Cronkite’s child like giggle when we landed on the moon. I am that excited for them.