Can we Talk?

This week I had 4 different thoughts that I wanted to discuss and couldn’t decide which one to choose, but then realized that they were actually all connected.  The connection actually lies in the title of a movie that my family experienced early in the week.  The Human Experience” is the “story of a band of brothers who travel the world in search of the answers to the burning questions: “Who am I” Who is Man: Why do we search for meaning?”  In their travels they live with the homeless in New York City, visit the lost children of Peru and the lepers in Ghana, Africa.  Watching it our family couldn’t help but be amazed by the incredible human spirit that thrives even in the toughest of situations.  Over and over again the message was reiterated how the full spectrum of human experiences is what unites us and lifts us up.  Stories of strength and hope in the most adverse conditions remind us of the depth of the human spirit.

Then a friend of mine shared with me Neil deGrasse Tyson’s, “What NASA means to America’s Future” speech at the University of Buffalo.  During his speech Dr. Tyson, stated that “NASA is a force of nature like no other” and that “NASA can dream about tomorrow” and we “need someone to keep the flame going.”  I like that. A force of nature that carries dreams forward.  It is not just the dream of those that work in the agency but it carries the unfettered dreams of a nation and the world. 


And as President Obama stated at his speech at the Kennedy Space Center, “Now, little more than 40 years ago, astronauts descended the nine-rung ladder of the lunar module called Eagle, … It wasn’t just the greatest achievement in NASA’s history — it was one of the greatest achievements in human history. And the question for us now is whether that was the beginning of something or the end of something. I choose to believe it was only the beginning.”  It doesn’t matter which camp you are on whether NASA should provide access to Low Earth Orbit or transition that to the commercial providers because at the end of the day I believe we all agree that NASA has always been and will always be here for the benefit of all humanity.  So I believe the focus of our conversations should move from how do we get to space to how do we add to the human experience?  What can we do to benefit all of humanity?


Or better yet, why not tackle the challenge posed by the former Director of DARPA, Dr. Tony Tether, at the recent JSC Innovation 2010 event.  (A great event that I will share in my next blog.)  After his presentation he was asked what he thinks should be the mission or rallying cry to focus NASA’s innovation?  His answer was priceless and so to paraphrase his response, 


“When NASA first went to the moon, we all wanted to go.  Forty years later we still ALL want to go.  NASA has forgotten that we all want to go.  If it can remember that fact, then there is nothing that can stop it from achieving the impossible.”  It is the human experience … we all want to go.  It is the pushing forward against impossible odds that lifts the human condition.  So how do we lift the human experience beyond the boundaries of this Earth AND lift the human condition back on Earth?  That is a “noble purpose” worth talking about.


Sharing the Vision,

Steven González, Deputy, Advanced Planning Office


6 thoughts on “Can we Talk?”

  1. Mr Stiven perfectly.

    Life is an incessant search. This is life. Not just a philosophical question, is an objective conclusion we can draw scientifically. Depend on the willingness to go. We wake up every morning not only to fulfill our duties, but every man carries within himself, from design (it seems smart to say that this comes from a genetic load) an unconscious goal, a purpose, an instinctive desire to do something new that brings happiness, ennobles, fill your stomach and soul. We can not stop.

    And yes we should tear the veil that obscures the possibilities, what we call the impossible, and go beyond.

    NASA is the result of this. Many say that space exploration has happened for a dispute of honor at the “cold war”. But it is only a superficial view. Actually, what brings us to space exploration is a passion for development, the use of our natural rational capacities tecnicists. Since the first observations of the area in ancient times, many have explored (even if only observing) space. And every child that is born looks at the sky, and wants to catch a star, fly and meet those pretty lights. Myths, religions, heroes, death and life, all the great things relate to the sky. The power of God, the infinity of space, evidence of the complex known in history, in space, in order.

    If we look to the future, as humanity is recent in the world will be short time only earthly history. When man reaches the ability to live and travel through space to enter the portals of eternity. Henceforth the world will be space, and the only earthly history is only a short prologue. The climax and the outcome will be in thousands of million years of human history through the cosmos, on different planets, thousands of people.

    Yes we can. Looking for improvement, discover, invent, improve, organize, develop, correct, forward … When we realize that this is our desire natural, harmless, healthy and good, when we realize that above all other desires is our will to live, things will be much easier (which is only going to live?). Gears of humanity work soft, lightweight, polished and without jarring when all admit that it is essential to happiness, which depends on the go, to interact and build a new world.

    NASA is and should remain, a strong and fearless guide, opening a path for the pilgrimage we make to the future. With luck, unexpectedly, everything changes into something better, and the difficult challenges today, tomorrow will be something routine.

    There are no utopias, that there are disabilities.

  2. NASA may be the most open-to-the-public of federal agencies. Exploring its websites reveals an awesome level of technical expertise. But much work does not seem to advance beyond the study or laboratory experiment phase.

    One critical technology needed for space travel beyond earth orbit is nuclear energy. It is a severe constraint to use only chemical energy for space exploration. Several billions have been invested in developing nuclear fission reactors for use in space with little to show for it. The main obstacles are political rather than technical. The lack of public confidence in the safe use of nuclear energy hinders its application in space as well as here on earth.

    Starting small with very safe projects may help to advance the use of nuclear reactors in space exploration and maybe on earth too. For example, one possible project is to conduct an interstellar precursor mission in which an unpiloted scientific probe travels well beyond the solar system driven with nuclear-electric propulsion; the nuclear reactor travels away from earth never to return so that there would be minimal danger to life on earth. Another example is the Icy Moons of Jupiter mission which was cancelled a few years ago.

    Success in projects like these may gain enough public confidence to allow execution of more ambitious space exploration programs using nuclear reactors for power and propulsion. The use of nuclear energy should allow increasing numbers of us to live and work in space.

  3. Mr Steven

    I will abuse the freedom to comment and I’ll say just a few words, commenting on Steve’s comment on nuclear power.

    It is energy that can be exploited. But there are more ways. Today there manufacturing of magnets that have a force-torque withstand to the weight of more than one hundred pounds per square inch. This means that one square meter of this type of magnet, perhaps iron-cobalt, supports more than 10,000 pounds. If we can harness all that power we can build ships lightweight, secure, powerful, clean, with a factor of life-util attractive. How to draw electricity from a magnet?

    Many think is impossible, but the fact is that things are impossible until someone does.

  4. You must think I sometimes do just the start, then many things happen by itself
    Beautifully written.

  5. Human beings are curious and want to experience everything, including the impossible. The urge for knowledge drives us to explore the unknown and go beyond the boundaries of the Earth.

  6. Yes you are right. Human experiences are worth to reach beyond the horizons as his dreams to touch sky will never perish.
    Vijeth Kumar

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