“Exiting the atmosphere?! Breaking free? for real?
This is the possibility I was exposed to when Ilan Ramon took me for a visit at the NASA training center in Houston”
So why should I be flying to space now? - first and foremost - because it can be done. Until recently one could only dream: space travel was the exclusive domain of government agencies, primarily those of the superpowers like the ones in the United States, Russia and China. When private investors joined the fray, the cornerstone was laid for turning space flight into an attainable goal. The history of flight shows us that even the price of a flight to space is going to become affordable for more and more people.
As a child on dark nights, I would gaze up into the sky, waiting patiently to see shooting stars. I would wonder: What’s out there, beyond what the eye can see? I was 11 years old when the world held its breath as Neil Armstrong emerged from the Apollo 11 landing craft and took his first step on the surface of the moon - “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. I wanted to find out more about the universe. I was consumed by curiosity.
Curiosity is a driving force. It pushes you to do things. To read science fiction books. To take an interest in everything one could get his hands on about space. To imagine visits to Earth - by UFO’s and aliens, all created in the feverish minds of their science fiction creators. And this drives you forward to the edge: to climb the highest tree, to climb between balconies on the eighth floor, and all other manner of adventures I by no means recommend you should try.
And this motivates you to become a pilot. To be impressed by the maneuverability (high G[i] force), by the supersonic speeds, by the ability to fly low on a dark night and on the other hand to fly higher and higher. To stand in awe as the aircraft and the human flying it become one, especially after thousands of flight hours, including some truly incredible feats of aerial acrobatics. To experience this elation of being in the sky, above the clouds. And it’s only natural that this fire would burn on inside you, driving you to reach higher and higher. To break through the atmosphere and reach into space.
When I visited Ilan at NASA, I realized this was all possible. I had seen the space shuttle up close. I had learned how this aircraft, which is also a spacecraft, operates. Ever since then I have been consumed by an ambition to reach space, an ambition that could finally become reality the moment space flight was opened up to private investors.
Assuming this adventure, which began a year ago, unfolds without delays, sometime in late February 2022 I will be seated at the tip of a rocket, accelerating to a speed of 28 thousand kilometers per hour, breaking free of the atmosphere, and then I will be staying aboard the International Space Station for about ten days.
And if the opportunity presents itself to fly to the moon, I’m not going to say no...
P.S.: About the Rakia mission and its fascinating experiments, I will be writing later on.