Being an Astronaut: Childhood dream

As a school going kid, space travel fascinated me. I envied my Mom when she told me that in 1969 they were live witness to the Apollo’s 1st moon landing on their TV sets. In 1980s in absence of even a TV or a library in my small town all my questions were largely unattended. But the little I could grab from school books and some Russian magazines (Soviet News, Sputnik) & American center’s SPAN made me an aspiring cosmonaut! In 1984 when Rakesh Sharma went into space with Russian astronauts abroad their space vehicle, I rationalized that living for being an astronaut was too much to ask for specially when India doesn’t have its own manned space program. I still cherished a wish to work for NASA or somehow sneak into a spaceship! The least I thought I would do is become an Aerospace engineer.

American Astronaut: Dr. Mary Ellen Weber ( & me ofcourse)

None of this happened, I was only good enough for a Masters in Physics. But I continued to closely follow  the space missions with NASA and U.S.S.R’s space agency. And the Universe did grant my wish of visiting the National Air & Space Museum , Washington DC where I relived the Apollo’s moon mission. I still have to go to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida & Mission Control, Houston. Little did I realize that my childhood dream was still so strongly hung on seeing myself as an “Astronaut”. No there are no surprises! I don’t go on to become an Astronaut. But I just met one in flesh and blood! Yes, right here in Hyderabad when Dr. Mary Ellen Weber appeared in a talk organized by the US consulate in Hyderabad. All those pent up emotions surfaced to the fore as I saw the lady in uniform just inches before me!

Even at 40+ I felt thrilled, it felt I shared the moment of being in space as she went through presentation slides of her stint on missions STS-70, STS-101 abroad the space shuttle. She like me too dreamt of being an astronaut as a young girl, the difference was she meant it and didn’t make a compromise and I stood there with tears brimming my eyes, reminding myself “How important it was to believe in your dreams” and knowing you can make it a reality.

I shook her hands, and shared the same space (air) with her! Yeah, I met an astronaut the other day! And I also got a picture clicked! And I still came happy and sad and very emotional. I now understood the feeling why some people feel so touched when they meet a celebrity they are a fan of!

It was indeed a photo finish!

Dr Mary Ellen Weber

2 Responses to “Being an Astronaut: Childhood dream”
  1. AT says:

    oh I can understand this feeling…
    I was in a shopping mall few days back and saw Soyuz Capsule which carried Greg Olson into space on display in center of the mall. It had its charm (although no astronaut was present) but lots of info on boards surrounding the capsule…
    All the kids were excited and clicking picture (I was one of them though I’m not a kid)…
    but yes seeing that capsule made my day 🙂

    • Anil Singhal says:

      I’m sure it will be fun, I remember seeing with avid interest the Soyuz-T 11 that carried our only space man – Rakesh Sharma to space in 1984. This was kept at Nehru planeterium, New Delhi. And I was crazily taking picture with an ordinary point & shoot of the insides of the command module :)..

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