(April 22, 2023) S. Padre Island, Texas
I wanted to write about my first rocket launch. I realized that to best write for you, I had to talk to other people about their experiences. I’m sharing with you some of the beautiful conversations I had at Starship’s first orbital flight test launch. We’ll hear from a SpaceX enthusiast, an ex-NASA engineer, and a SpaceX engineer.
A DREAM COMES TRUE.
When Tesla announced the availability of the first version Model 3 sedan, Jim from Indiana was one of the first to reserve one. Since that date in 2017, Jim has closely been following Elon Musk’s companies and has been supportive of SpaceX. When he heard Starship would launch its first orbital test this year, he had a dream of going there with his daughter.
I saw Jim standing on Isla Blanca State Park beach with his wife, two children and another family friend. Jim’s passion and dedication to supporting SpaceX and its mission to make us multi-planetary is contagious. He wakes up every morning excited about the future!
“I knew I would bring my daughter, and when my wife found out she helped turn it into a family vacation for us all.”
I talked with him on the beach while his children played in the rolling waves at Isla Blanca State Park. Jim is one of many people who came to see the first Starship launch in person on April 20, 2023.
EX-NASA ENGINEER BELIEVES ELON MUSK WILL GET PEOPLE LIVING ON THE MOON.
Fred Becker, an ex-NASA Engineer would not have missed this launch for anything. Fred drove down from Indiana with his tiny Pomeranian in a little carrying pack. When Fred was 16 years old, he watched Apollo 16 land on the Moon on April 16. In a gentle voice, and with a slight sense of humor, Fred told me he wished the Starship launch had been on April 16.
We talked quite a bit, and I felt like I was talking to an old friend, Fred told me,
“NASA has been hamstrung by politics, but Elon Musk is not, for the most part.”
Fred shared with me that he knows Elon Musk is an incredibly amazing and kind person, and if “his mission is to get people living on the moon that’s going to happen.”
As I watched Fred walk away, I thought about how he explained to me that he had played a big role in designing and developing the space shuttle for NASA. Fred came alive when he explained to me his admiration for what Elon Musk is doing. I saw a spark light up in his eye.
There were a lot of NASA folks present at the Starship launch. SpaceX is opening up hope again to them that we will have people living on the moon and beyond!
WORKING FOR SPACEX.
I lingered at Isla Blanca for a while after the launch, the beach started to clear and began to fill up with happy families, kids, toys, and coconut-scented suntan lotion. As I started to walk back to the parking lot, I ran into Justin T., a SpaceX engineer. I asked him what his role was in Starship, and he was gracious enough to explain it to me in terms I could understand. He said he was responsible for connecting the fuel tanks to the Starship, it’s a lot more complicated than that, but I will tell you that he expressed he loved his job and the team he works with.
Justin told me he’s ready to get right back to work for the next launch. He told me he loves working at SpaceX and does not entertain any plans of leaving. He has found his passion and mission. It was incredible to hear him talk and to be able to thank him for his hard work. Without him, the launch would not have been the data-gathering success that it was.
I’ve been to Starbase 6 times with most of my family. We’ve camped on the beach 3 times, which is pretty near to the Starship launch site!
When Starship launched, the vibrations in the air and the deep rumbling sound were much more profound than I could have imagined. I could feel the intense pressure in the core of my heart. This was my first launch to ever attend in person! One of my kids was there and when I turned around he had tears of joy streaming down his face. “It made me realize my life priorities!”
If Starship goes to Mars, we have a great chance of passing the great filter and becoming a multi-planetary civilization. If Starship doesn’t make it to Mars, if the program fails, it will still do one thing that is extremely valuable in the lives of people today: Give people hope where there wasn’t any before. Do you love waking up in the morning excited for the future? I know I do. This alone is justification enough for Starship.
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“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – President John F. Kennedy, Houston, Texas, September 12, 1962
Elon Musk was asked, “Why should we colonize Mars?”
“Being a multi-planet species and being out there among the stars is important for the long-term survival of humanity and that’s one reason, kind of like life insurance for life collectively, life as we know it. The part that I find personally most motivating is that it creates a sense of adventure and it makes people excited about the future. If you consider two futures: one where we are forever confined to Earth until eventually something terrible happens — or another future where we are out there on many planets, maybe even going beyond the solar system! I think that the second version is incredibly exciting and inspiring… and there need to be reasons to get up in the morning. You know, life cannot just be about solving problems, otherwise, what’s the point? There’s gotta be things that people find inspiring and make life worth living.” – Elon Musk
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Article by Gail Alfar, please credit accordingly. Thanks to Fred Becker, SpaceX, Elon Musk, and Carlos Nunez Images. Original Article appears on Gail Alfar’s Twitter