Four and a half years ago when President Obama predicted that Americans would fly through space to Mars within 20 to 30 years my long-held dream of landing on the Red Planet seemed unlikely to be fulfilled in my lifetime.
And two months ago, I mulled over the possibility of getting there even if I were long gone from my earthly existence when the first spaceship carrying live humans reached that dusty, crimson orb.
But back in January of 2012, getting launched into space sooner rather than later looked “doable.” I simply had to raise the $200,000 “fare” for a trip aboard Virgin Galatic’s spaceship. (The price is now up to $250,000 and the flights won’t launch until sometime in 2015.)
Now NASA has announced that two companies, Elon Musk’s “SpaceX” and Boeing (which built the first commercial jet airliners that I traveled aboard nearly 50 years ago) will be constructing vessels designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station and later, take space tourists like me into orbit.
National Public Radio has kindly provided the answer for me, and Boeing, for whom I briefly worked at its Renton, Washington aircraft assembly plant two years before Neil Armstrong took his small but giant step onto the surface of the Moon, is going to be disappointed.
While from the outside, both the Boeing and SpaceX ships seem like a knock-offs of the capsules astronauts rode in during the long-past NASA Apollo program, like CNN’s Rachel Crane, it’s the SpaceX “Dragon” all the way for me because inside it looks like “real” spaceships that flew across the star-filled galaxies, long, long ago, in all of those sci-fi movies and TV shows I loved to watch.