This morning I opened an e-mail that only the truly stone-hearted could fail to find charming: “Hello Terry Marotta, Hello from France! I am Stéphane Sebile, a young space exploration fan.” Stéphane has a Web site on space exploration, where each week he records the short interviews he does with former astronauts and others in the field.
This morning I opened an e-mail that only the truly stone-hearted could fail to find charming:
“Hello Terry Marotta, Hello from France! I am Stéphane Sebile, a young space exploration fan. I agree your indulgence for my bad English!”
Stéphane has a Web site on space exploration, where each week he records the short interviews he does with former astronauts and others in the field.
“I know you have been Journalist Astronaut candidate for the NASA Journalist in Space Program in 1986,” he went on and he’s right about that. I made it to the final 40 out of a field of more than 2,000 journalists hoping for ride on the Space Shuttle - until the mission was put on hold in the wake of the Challenger disaster. At that point NASA said they were keeping our applications and would get back to us in time. We’re still waiting.
“I publish the answers in the tongue of the astronaut exactly as I receive them,” wrote Stéphane, and that is what I also do in setting down his words.
Here then, both his questions and what I will send him in reply:
Stéphane: “Why have you decide to become candidate for NASA Journalist in Space selection?”
Me: “When they announced the Teacher in Space Competition all I could think was ‘Oh WHY did I leave teaching after only seven years? If I’d stayed in the classroom I could apply for this!’ Then the next fall, with Christa McAuliffe in flight training at the Johnson Space Center, a new competition was announced for people in my current career. A shiver went down my spine. A second chance?”
Stéphane: “I suppose you would like to go in space. But why?”
Me: “All my life I have struggled for a kind of perspective that has mostly eluded me. But each time I fly in a plane I can suddenly see my life whole; see our lives whole. I feel this sudden sense of exaltation, and want to tell everyone, “There’s so much more than we can see! We don’t HAVE to live like ants!”
Stéphane: “Did you think it's important for the mankind to have a step in space, to send man in space and why?”
Me: “I think it’s very important. The human race is in its infancy! We’re babies, still in our playpens! But we’re learning fast now. It’s time to leave the house; to look around some. And this little solar system is just our front yard.”
Stéphane: “What represent for you Yuri Gagarin?”
Me: “A Russian the first person up there?! Americans were horrified. And sure, back in ‘61 we kids played endless games of the Commies against the Americans, but we had this young President, and a dawning sense that there just might be room for all of us in his New Frontier.”
Stéphane: “What represent for you Apollo 11? Which memory(ies) have you of this event?”
Me: “July of ’69. I stayed up all night with my new boyfriend to watch it with his mom on her black-and-white TV. We waited and waited to see that first boot set down on moondust. Little did we know that we would soon be family and 40 years would whiz past fast as any rocket.
Stéphane: “What will be your most incredible space dream?”
Me: “That someday there will be more people like you, fascinated by the prospect of space flight. With only a handful of missions left, I realize NASA won’t be putting me up there but maybe you will go, Stéphane, and how’s that for a dream? And when you get back, maybe I’ll get to interview you!”
Visit Stéphane’s site at http://spacemen1969.blogspot.com and Terry’s at www.terrymarotta.com. Write Terry any time at email@example.com or P.O. Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890.