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NASA Responds To A 7 Year Old’s Request To Go Into Space

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NASA LetterRemember how amazing the idea of space travel was when you were a kid? Don’t get me wrong, it still totally boggles my mind how cool it is, but somewhere along the line we grew up, and some of the magic wore off. It’s bizarre to think that could ever happen, but it did. I am totally stoked, however, to see that the sense of awe and wonder regarding outerspace isn’t entirely lost on younger generations. A seven-year-old boy recently wrote to NASA asking about breaking the bonds of our atmosphere, and much to his surprise, they wrote back.

A young boy named Dexter sent a letter to everyone’s favorite space agency, lamenting the fact that he is only seven, and far too young to go into space right now. He then asks for some helpful tips about how he could become an astronaut in the future. At the bottom of the page, he also includes a small drawing, presumably of him and a fellow space traveler, floating safely inside of a space capsule.

NASA, which according to one spokesperson responds to hundreds of thousands of letters and requests each year, wrote him back. Their answer contains links to some of the agency’s youth education programs, as well as links to Space Camps and job listings at NASA.

NASA LetterNot only is Dexter’s letter totally adorable, it’s even better that he received a reply. His mom says opening the letter was like Christmas morning. How fun would it be to open a letter from NASA? There is one minor hitch in Dexter’s plan. He lives in England. His NASA letter was inspired by a family visit to the Kennedy Space Center. But he’s not going to let that hold him back. Bolstered by his first letter, Dexter is hard at work composing a similar dispatch for the European Space Agency. Perhaps they don’t have such restrictive age limits on their space flights.

This is heartening, not just because it’s a cute human-interest story, but because it gives me hope that the younger generations still give a half a shit about space exploration. With recent government cutbacks, the future has seen better days. But as long little kids still look up at the stars and dream about floating weightless inside a cramped metal tube, there is still hope.

There’s a good chance Dexter will outgrow his interest in space. After all, it’s one of the phases that most little boys go through, like dinosaurs and World War II airplanes. Still, for all of us that move on to other things, there are some that don’t. The kid who grew up in the house next to mine never lost his desire to fly, went to the Air Force Academy, and is currently a commercial pilot. So who knows, maybe we’ll see Dexter become the first person to walk on Mars.

In an email, a rep wrote, “NASA is working to send humans farther into space than ever before, first to an asteroid and on to Mars, and perhaps one of these young writers will be among the first astronauts to set foot on another planet.”

For his interest, NASA sent Dexter received some nice swag, including a bunch of color pictures of Mars, and the Curiosity Rover, as well as a sticker and bookmark.

Comments

  1. AJ says:

    There are kids like this all over the world. I remember watching a movie called Space Camp in the ’80s and being totally consumed when I realized Space Camp actually exists! I spent the winter months of that year working toward saving money for a week at the camp.

    Alas, when the summer months came, my resolve drifted to a new bike. I never did make it to Space Camp, but my interest in space, exploration and science never waned.

    Right now, in my city, we’re battling the closure of the Centre of the Universe, the public area of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/nrc-shift-spells-end-for-victorias-centre-of-the-universe/article12790392/

    If facilities/organizations like this encourage just ONE child to think beyond their town, country and world, they’ll create a child who makes responsible decisions for mankind and the environment. If they encourage just ONE child to think outside the box, maybe we’ll get more scientists in 10-20 years willing to do things like curing cancer by using a modified version of the AIDS virus, building machines that can make even the most polluted water potable again, and develop ‘cold fusion’ power systems like the LENR.

    The world is big, but the universe is bigger. Let us not contain their imagination, but encourage them to reach beyond the horizons.

    Fund science. Fund space exploration.

  2. Sara Crow says:

    Little boys? Just little boys? Really. I had three times as many books about space travel, dinosaurs and monsters as I did about princesses when I was a little girl. Jus’ sayin’. 😉

    • Brent McKnight says:

      You are very right, a glaring misstatement on my part. The awesomeness of space and dinosaurs is by no mean the exclusive domain of little boys.

      • Sara Crow says:

        I was always jealous that boys got all the fun crap. I think I’d be even more frustrated as a girl today. At least they were marketing Legos to me when I was a kid!

  3. Jay says:

    Its a form letter not personalized in any way…Why is the response even part of the story

    • AJ says:

      Because when you’re a kid, the content of the letter is less exciting than a letter from NASA directly TO YOU. 🙂

      Kudos to NASA for spending the money on one or two souls who send out these letters to kids – whether form letters or not!

  4. Scott Hander says:

    I thought this was really terrific that someone responded to him. I remember writing to NASA when I was around that age (never having gotten an answer, but probably because my parents didn’t actually send the letter). But something that strikes me in the response is the URL for the K-4 NASA website. Wouldn’t it be a little more friendly to have a URL like nasa4kids.gov instead of the long one they provide?