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“My kids will never know a sky without the Space Station”

I am honoured that on Monday, I will be able to share some of my insight with the folks at NASA’s Goddard Space Center.


This is the first picture of Earth taken from a planet beyond the moon, taken by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, one hour before sunrise on the 63rd Martian day, or sol, of its mission. (March 8, 2004).

10 years ago, I wrote a blog post about “10 things that my kids think are from the olden days.” It’s still a great read — grab it here.

Bullet number 10 on that list? This is what I wrote at that time:

My kids will never know a sky without the Space Station.

Ever since they can remember, they’ve gone into our backyard at dusk on clear evenings, watching for the International Space Station and various satellites. They know that mommy and daddy will tell them precisely where to look, at what time, and in what direction the station or satellite will be traversing overhead.

That’s because they’ve grown up with a Web site called Heavens-Above, which will tell you the exact details, for any particular point on earth, where you can easily observe such orbiting wonders.

To them, this is a normal and expected part of life—to me, it is fascinating that a system has evolved that lets me discover such magic.

When my kids were 3 and 5 years old, I would take them out in the backyard, and using the data from the Web site, would teach them how to spot the ISS, the Hubble, various Russian rocket boosters, communication satellites — and Iridium Flares!

All kinds of marvels, built and launched from the wonder that is the human mind.

Extraordinary stuff. Extraordinary times. Extraordinary innovation.

By the way, read this post.


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