It’s no secret that I am a science fiction fan. When dating my wife, one of our first kisses was from me becoming overjoyed after I found out she stayed up too late the previous night watching a “dumb movie” on the SciFi channel. In my book, a girl willing to lose some sleep watching science fiction on TV was a girl worth dating.
One thing that has always made me uncomfortable with science fiction is when science doesn’t support what’s happening in the story. So for instance, in Star Trek I could always buy-off on the science behind the crew’s planet-to-ship handheld communicators and even the ships transporter (which turns matter into energy and then energy back into matter). But the concept that humankind in a few centuries could build a ship that traveled faster than the speed of light is pure fantasy. Fantasy doesn’t make a show less enjoyable to watch but it’s not science nor grounded in reality.
When I was eleven years old, there was a television show called Salvage 1 starring Andy Griffith. The premise of the show was focused on a salvage man’s dream to build a rocket, go to the moon, and bring back to Earth the old Apollo mission “junk” for resale. While his character’s use of a semi-truck cement mixer for the capsule or that a salvage company had the resources to build and launch a rocket seemed far-fetched…I could buy off on it.
Although Salvage 1 barely lasted more than a season, the show fed into my desire to see companies outside of NASA being able to launch their own rockets. Even as a child of the 1970’s, I saw no reason why private citizens couldn’t be capable of space travel. However, the fantasy in the show was a big distraction for me.
The show ridiculously showed Salvage 1’s rocket, the Vulture, having the ability to land on its own feet and then be reused over and over. The science and technology I knew at the time said it was nearly impossible to safely land a rocket on its feet safely to earth.
Then 35 year later in the real world, a man by the name of Elon Musk comes around, builds his own rocket company called SpaceX and safely lands booster rockets to earth. What does he do with the used booster rockets? He salvages them and reuses them for later flights. My fantasy of seeing rockets do this has unexpectedly become my reality.
When what you thought was impossible becomes possible in your lifetime…it humbles you. Moments like these simply gives you hope that maybe, just maybe, you were wrong about other impossibilities in your life.