To infinity and beyond.
My daughter works at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
She’s a pilot and a marketing guru and deeply involved in the world of drones or perhaps more accurately, how drones will become more and more a part of our world, and how to regulate, safely manage and also dream about the possibilities they present.
The pattern has been that NASA explores the new space terrain, or the new airspace needs and occupants, then private industry begins to settle it. This mirrors the settlement of new frontiers on Earth. First come the scouts (Columbus, Lewis & Clark, etc.) usually funded by governments, then businesses arrive and develop economy.
While I was in Virginia, to help her with what would soon be her first baby, I spent an afternoon at the NASA facility with her. Here were some things I observed:
1. There are still very, very few women. We had lunch in the cafeteria which was large and clean and uber-modern and I counted two females. She and I.
2. NASA has a sense of humor. A T-shirt in the gift shop expressed a truism for me (it came home with us) as did this “onesie” appropriate for a NASA mom.
3. There are very smart people (Big Bang Theory types) who work at NASA with heads full of a wonderful combination of science/engineering capabilities as well as vision and dreams, you know, that whole right brain/left brain thing, expressed so well from a 28-year veteran of NASA:
Space, ultimately, is about faith – faith that our curiosity, restlessness, and willingness to take some risks will lead to treasures we cannot imagine. We must recognize what space does for us as a people and as a nation – technologically, educationally, globally, economically and spiritually.
We need a dream. I’m an engineer, so when I dream I do more than just close my eyes and think happy thoughts. To me, a dream is a vision with a plan, one that strains capabilities to the point of seeming impractical.
…..we’ll suffer setbacks, but we’ll also achieve astonishing goals and if we meet [each] challenge, we will be known as the generation who opened up the terrain of space; who settled the greatest frontier.
4. Coming back down to earth, did I mention I saw very few women? I had to walk a long distance to find a women’s restroom and when I did, I was perplexed that in a place so brilliant, these signs were posted on the back of the bathroom stalls:
” If you sprinkle,
when you tinkle,
be a sweetie,
wipe the seatie.”
Have you seen Hidden Figures? These nursery rhyme-esque bathroom requests seemed evidence to me that it wasn’t all that long ago when women were patronized and underestimated. It also seemed they should be taken down from the stalls.
5. To see your adult children engaged and contributing in work they are passionate about is a joy to your heart.
These were my observations that afternoon.
And now, a month or so later with her daughter having arrived (named Piper after a favorite airplane) I have one more of my very own NASA nuggets to share;
It is that indeed, the greatest miracle of the universe…the most amazing, awe-inspiring gift of stardust and light is still, hands down – a new life.
A stop-you-in-your-tracks bundle of pulsing, heart beating, softly-breathing love from the heavens that surround us.
Thank you, thank you, to the mysterious universe for hearts and minds and spirits that can scarcely take it all in.