“We cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first. We can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last.” – John F. Kennedy
With all the turbulence in the world, it seems fitting that American’s are once again looking to the stars. Only this time, it’s through the eyes of citizen astronauts.
I remember getting up at 3:30 in the morning to watch Alan Shepard become America’s first astronaut to begin the dream of space exploration. Siting aboard his Mercury Redstone 3 rocket that seemed immense on TV, Shepard waited for what seemed hours before he blasted into history as America’s first.
Visiting the Shepard/McAuliffe Space Center in Concord, New Hampshire, I was a little surprised to see a full-size replica that really wasn’t all that immense. But Shepard’s achievement was.
It seems fitting that Amazon founder and billionaire, Jeff Bezos, realized the same dream when he blasted into history on a rocket that he paid developed and paid for. And in honor of that first citizen-manned flight, Bezos named his capsule, New Shepard.
“Riding with Bezos on the planned 11-minute flight,” NPR reported, “were brother Mark Bezos as well as the oldest and youngest people ever to fly into space – 82-year-old pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, 18, a physics student. Daemen, whose seat was paid for by his father, Joes Daemen…”
“Every astronaut, everybody who’s been up into space, they say that it changes them,” Bezos said at a press conference after the flight. “And they’re kind of amazed and awestruck by the Earth and its beauty, but also by its fragility. And I can vouch for that.”
Bezos proves that despite the turmoil in the country, we can still fulfill our dreams of a lifetime.
And that’s what makes America great.