On my final visit to the US Space & Rocket Center before moving out of Huntsville, I took the following photograph in the replica Von Braun office. I accidentally focused on the lunar and Martian globes behind the rocket, rather than the shiny rocket itself. So I almost discarded the picture because the rocket object in the foreground was out of focus.
The rocket should be blurry (Huntsville, AL 2012)
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But then I thought about it, and I feel that this picture is very symbolic and meaningful to me. In the Aerospace Industry, we love to focus on the rockets. And the spaceships. And we really love it if they are shiny. But the reason to have a space program has nothing to do with the shiny rocket. It has to do with those two in-focus spheres in the background behind the blurry foreground rocket. Those two spheres, the moon and Mars, are the closest and easiest for us to get to, now and forever. And there are hundreds of billions more spheres out there.
So, let's continue to worship the hardware, but I implore all involved to keep the destination and the purpose in-focus: why we are building the rocket and what we are going to do with the rocket. That we are going to use the rocket to open up new frontiers, not threaten or kill our fellow man. That we have a purpose, as humans, to continue to reach upwards and explore.
This post is dedicated to Neil Armstrong. I only got to work with him indirectly, and he walked on the moon the decade before I was born, but I found his attitude and humility to be inspirational.
Check out the entire Flickr Set Goodbye Space & Rocket Center