Space, man.

In the summer of 2012, I was a precocious undergraduate spending the summer at a certain Ivy League institution as a research assistant in the laboratory of a certain Nobel Prize winner. I plugged away at the microscope all day, with Earl Sweatshirt’s early shit blasting in my ears, the steady minimalist beats fueling me through my grueling days. But then I would come home, and unwind in front of my computer like any good millennial. One day the Curiosity rover landed to much fanfare, and I stayed up on my computer late into the night to watch it. Something about space is so inspirational to anyone with any real interest in science. We have run out of things to explore; those greedy colonialist pigs circled the globe long before I ever got the chance (and made a real mess of things by doing so). And space itself isn’t something new: JFK inspired the US to reach for the stars decades ago, while the USSR was also looking upward. Since then, it seems like every country has a space program. Maybe space is just mundane now? Maybe resupplying the International Space Station is like the monthly trip to Costco? But I think there is still some mystique in it. Because the night that Curiosity landed on Mars, I watched with wonder–and I was not the only one. We keep having these moments as a society where the space programs of our planet manage to keep us interested long after people were supposed to have gotten bored with space. I started to wonder if NASA is just getting better at marketing. Did they hire some big PR firm to drum up public support–and maybe secure a half a percent more of the next federal budget. Maybe it makes more sense that this wonder was never really gone. Because now Elon Musk is promising to send people to Mars and I want to be first in line. The truth is that the rational part of me doesn’t believe that SpaceX will ever send a soul to Mars. Hell, they can’t even get a resupply rocket off of the ground. But the idea is just so human. There’s nothing left for us to explore. So why not pile into aluminum tubes and blast off (or up) for the heavens, why not see what we can find out there? This monkey is ready to blast off into space, man.

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