This I Believe: I Believe In Space Exploration

Jul 19, 2018

Essayist Sarah Khalida in front of the Atlas V rocket.
Credit Sarah Khalida

I believe in space exploration

I remember building my first website with my brother when I was 7 years old. He taught me to write my first HTML and as I saw my code come to life on Netscape Navigator, I remember thinking it was the coolest thing in the world. I grew up visiting planetariums and museums and watching Bill Nye the Science Guy religiously. The Franklin Institute science museum was my peaceful getaway when I was a kid. Because of this, I grew up enjoying chemistry, math and coding, and graduated with an Engineering degree. My career path has evolved since then, but I’ve never lost my love for science, tech, and engineering.

That’s why I was ecstatic to attend the NASA Social event for the Mars INSIGHT mission in California in early May. NASA Social brings together space enthusiasts who are active on social media to reach out to diverse crowds to talk about NASA’s initiatives. The INSIGHT mission’s main goal is an in-depth study of Mars. It involves detecting Mars quakes so that we can better understand the formation of the planet. The lander is expected to land on Mars on November 26, which is coincidentally Cyber Monday. This mission is a joint effort of 5 countries, each with its own contribution--from designing the lander to providing the seismometer technology. We’re lucky to live in a time where there’s an exchange of scientific discovery, knowledge, and culture.

There were two highlights of the experience, seeing the Atlas V rocket up close and experiencing the launch. To see this 200-foot engineering marvel in person knowing that it would land on Mars within 6 months was unthinkable. As we all stood together at 3:00 in the morning to see the launch, I felt a unique connection to these strangers. Then, we heard it. “Go ATLAS. Go CENTAUR. Go INSIGHT.” After about a minute, I felt the ground rumble even though I was more than 10 miles away. As I got a glimpse of the rocket in the heavy fog, I thought to myself “This is unbelievable.”

Years ago, SpaceX discovered reusable rockets, which cut costs tremendously, changing the landscape of commercial rocket launches. Space vacation is just around the corner. Do I believe in a future on Mars? Yes. Was the launch of the Tesla Roadster into space just a publicity stunt? Maybe. However, the same can’t be said for the Falcon Heavy rocket it was launched in.

Exploring places outside the Earth appeals to me. I feel lucky to be alive in a time where technological advancements allow for rocket launches on a weekly basis, a time where ideas and innovations are never too crazy to explore. If given an opportunity to go to space, would I take it? Definitely.

Space exploration brings significant advancements in medical technologies, navigation systems, climate forecasting, measuring pollution and industrial efficiency.

In a time of negativity about science and technological advancements and disbelief in global warming and evolution, I believe the world could use a little more inspiration.

I believe in space exploration.   

Essayist Sarah Khalida is the social media strategist for WPSU.