My husband loves space. From space travel and the discussion of life on Mars to touring our local Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Hugo’s inner little boy ignites when he hears Neil deGrasse Tyson speak. I love how he loves it and because of his passion and fascination with the cosmos, I have slowly but surely become more engrossed with it all. Sometimes at night we will shut the television off, grab a blanket, and lay in the middle of the driveway, watching and waiting patiently for shooting stars or the recent Perseid Meteor Shower. On that particular night, our sick and dying Kaiser crawled on the blanket with Hugo and had a quiet moment alone under the night sky.
Last night, at 7:22 pm, we ran upstairs and perched ourselves on our western-facing 2nd floor balcony, ready for the rocket launch that Hugo had heard about. From what he saw on TV, Vandenberg Airforce Base, which is about 100 miles northwest of us, was scheduled to launch a SpaceX rocket. We waited for ten minutes, re-positioned ourselves in an open field adjacent to our house, and waited some more. Nothing. The only thing that happened was a scary bug crawled over my exposed sandal-clad foot, causing me to descend into minor panic. And that’s when we realized we had the wrong night.
So, tonight, a little past 7 o’clock, while my husband was working and I sat online shopping for school books, Hugo texted me that it was about to start. It being the SpaceX two-part launch that included a satellite being sent into space and the ‘first part’ (what I gather is part of the rocket launching mechanism) returning back to the launch pad at the base. We both got into our respective positions, me at home and he outside of his car at work, and waited. With the live stream countdown hitting zero, the bright rocket show began.
Over the course of a few minutes, the launch and separation illuminated the night sky so beautifully. I toggled between taking photos, listening to the SpaceX commentary regarding the success of it all, and texting Hugo with excitement. It is because of him, after all, that I got to enjoy such an awe-inspiring moment. There’s something about watching an object lifting off from our planet and traveling out into the dark unknown that gives me chills.
The most marvelous part of learning to love and appreciate space, and all of its unique and limitless possibilities, is that I feel more centered and humbled. By taking a few moments, like this launch or our night sky viewings laying in the driveway, you realize just how small we are down here on Earth. My favorite part of that realization is the fact that our problems, worries and frustrations, despite feeling overwhelming and grandiose at times, are truly so small. We are all just little ants floating on a big mass of water and dirt, surrounded by darkness and the unknown. Now that is pretty cool.