The Sky is NOT the Limit
Five year old Cooper Fox says that he is going to be the second man to sky dive from the edge of Space, like Felix Baumgartner did earlier today.
The time was when the idea of Space, from NASA and Projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and even Shuttle, along with TV shows like Star Trek inspired an entire generation, if not three, to the idea that Space wasn’t just an unreachable place, it was the ‘New Frontier.’ At five years of age myself, I had no doubt that someday I will live and work in space, and in a way, I did. Maybe not in the outer atmosphere, but the same technology that drove the Shuttle into orbit was the same computer I used to defend the United States. Later I would teach the same computer that Neil Armstrong used to land on the moon to Fire Control Techs of the Poseidon missile system. I may never have left Earth, but I learned the systems and the technology and used it every day of my first professional life.
And so we watched today, after years of our Space program seemingly going dormant, as Felix Baumgartner rode Helium balloon 128,800 feet into the air and then climb out on the stoop, salute the world below and jump off. In the process, Felix broke the record that had stood since 1960, held by Joe Kittenger who made his jump with a rip in his pressure suit glove that he refused to tell ground controllers about because he was sure that they would cancel his mission.
And that is how he saw it, as a mission for his country. Kittenger would go on to fly in combat and spend eleven months as a POW in Vietnam. He served as “CAPCOM” for Felix Baumgartner’s record breaking jump from the edge of space.
There once was a time when the inspiration of ideas led men and women to try things that seemed impossible, but with consideration, technology and testing proved to be within our grasp, taking us to the surface of the moon and back safely. Indeed, some of the idea of that time became the basis for our own technologies and everyday lifestyles, almost un-thought of anymore.
As a five year old boy, I remember the watching Neil Armstrong step onto the moon, and I remember how well it inspired me to reach for the heights of the heavens, the belief that there are no limits on human endeavor. For the first time in a very long time, I felt that again yesterday. Most importantly, five year old boys all over the world saw it and felt it again.
It seems like we have lost the spirit of exploration, of trying the impossible, not for daredevilish stunts, but for the learning of human limits and skills. For going just one step further into the unknown. For using such things to teach us how to go even farther.
And most of all, to inspire little boys and girls to believe that the sky is NOT the limit.