Growing up in Central Florida, one of my earliest aspirations was to be an astronaut. I believe moonwatching, supporting NASA, and reaching for the stars is ingrained in any native Floridian. My mother was pregnant with me when Neil Armstrong first set foot upon the Moon. Just twelve years later, I vividly remember being home sick from school and lying in bed watching both the opening of Epcot as well as the launch of the first space shuttle mission. Later, images of Columbia exploding 72 seconds into flight still reign in my mind, and I remember my high school teachers trying to explain to students what had happened. In fact, it wasn’t until I was a sophomore sitting in Astronomy class at the University of Florida–and I realized how much math was involved with being an astronaut–that I was forced to give up that dream.
Now, as NASA struggles with undetermined funding and uncertainty, everyone seems to have a strong opinion either for space exploration or against it. This is why the upcoming Space Elevator Games fascinate me so. The idea of reaching space in a new way (that doesn’t involve me having to conquer ridiculous amounts of math) seems intriguing. Here’s a short trailer for the games.
Yes, this idea seems a bit “out there” and farfetched, but so did rocketry fifty years ago. Ever see the movie October Sky? Well, one of those rocket boys lives right here in Central Florida: Dr. Robert Likens. He is living proof that dreams, however lofty, can come true. So, regardless of whether this idea will actually come to fruition, I loudly applaud the inventive thinking and never-ending dream of reaching for the stars…somehow it seems to epitomize not only the American spirit, but the Central Floridan one as well.