NASA is easily the most awesome government agency. I think we can all agree on that.
The evidence? An adorable seven-year-old boy in England wrote to NASA, and NASA actually wrote back, encouraging him to follow his dreams.
The hand-written letter, from a boy named Dexter, reads:
My name is Dexter I heard that you are sending 2 people to Mars and I would like to come but I’m 7. So I can’t. I would like to come in the future what do I have to do to become an astronaut?
(I’m not crying. It’s just got really dusty in here).
That super sweet letter isn’t where this stops, though, because NASA wrote back and, along with the letter, sent some stickers and posters. The letter back was a full page and encourages Dexter to keep his grades up and to keep “reaching for the stars.”
OK, that’s it. My seven-year-old self is bawling. What am I saying? My current, 29-year-old self is bawling.
When I was a kid, I was a little space crazy. I read every book I could on the United States space program. I used poster board and made cutouts of every manned spaceship the US ever produced (except Skylab, because FAIL). I celebrated the day Apollo 11 landed on the moon. I had a telescope. My wallpaper had constellations and planets on it. (Which, by the way, my parents put up upside down. They tried to pull the old “there’s no up or down in space” excuse. Sorry, Mom and Dad. You goofed.)
Come to think of it, I’m still a little space crazy. I use glow in the dark stars to create constellations on my living room wall, I never miss a meeting of my amateur astronomy group, and I have an actual, grown-up telescope so I can look at planets and the moon and star clusters on the reg.
What I’m saying is, space is awesome. It’s a gateway science. It has everything. Physics, chemistry, biology and geology. All of these sciences are relevant when studying space. Once you’re hooked on space, you can never learn enough. Trust me. I know. Even today, when I read about some new piece of information about the super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy or the discovery of an extrasolar planet, it takes my breathe away.
When people ask me what the point of a space program is, that is what I tell them. I was Dexter. Millions of kids around the world are Dexter. This is a good thing. Astronauts and engineers are the 21st century explorers. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little lives on our own little planet in a backwater arm of a galaxy that isn’t even the biggest and baddest in the neighborhood. Space exploration gives us a reason to dream of a better world. NASA, after all, is responsible for approximately a bajillion things we use every single day.
Dream on, Dexter. With kids like you, I know we’ll reach the stars someday.
Image credit: Imgur
Photo Credit: kattybopatty via imgur
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