Fly Me to the Moon, But First…

The first man set foot on the moon when I was five years old. Naturally, this meant that I, along with every other five year old on the planet, wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. (My second choice was rock star. My third was transportation broker. Not bad, eh?)

I was reminded of my old dream when I realized that today marks the 53rd anniversary of astronaut John Glenn’s historic flight. In 1962, Glenn completed the Friendship 7 mission, becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, and the fifth human in space. His accomplishment was monumental for the United States, because it proved we were serious contenders in the space race. Just a few months later, John F. Kennedy made his famous promise that America would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, which is exactly what we did.

As exciting as the moon landing was, we’ve moved on to new challenges. In March 2009, NASA launched the Kepler Mission with the goal of finding other life-supporting planets. As anyone who has ever been house-hunting will tell you, real estate is a risky market, and finding a new Earth is lot like finding a new house, just a few thousand times harder. That’s why the recent discovery of an Earth-like planet was so exciting. From what scientists can see, it bears a striking resemblance to Earth, right down to its orbit around a large, fiery sun.

Kepler- Matchmaker LogisticsWhile this new planet, currently named Kepler-186F, seems promising, we won’t be house-hunting there any time soon. While 150 light years isn’t far when you consider the size of the universe, it’s still quite a hike; it would take us a few generations just to get there. That’s okay, because we’ve got plenty of things to work on in the meantime. Think about this way: we can land a man on the moon, but we still can’t:

• Get an Egg McMuffin after 11AM.
• Invent packaging for scissors that doesn’t require a pair of scissors to get it open.
• Create a self-cleaning microwave.
• Make an easy-to-open prescription bottle.

See what I mean? Kepler-186F can wait – we’ve got plenty left to do on this Earth. In the meantime, let’s take comfort in this last little tidbit about astronaut John Glenn. In addition to being the fifth person to go to space, he’s also the oldest, thanks to a trip he took in 1998, at the age of 77. In other words, there’s still time to make the dreams of my inner five-year-old come true.

Shoot for the stars this weekend,