Transcript: Space4U podcast, Sarah Cruddas
Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team
Hi there. I’m Rich Cooper with the Space Foundation. And this is the Space4U podcast, our series of conversations with the various men and women that are part of today’s space community and driving it forward to do even greater things. Today, I’m joined by Sarah Cruddas via Zoom who lives in the United Kingdom.
And Sarah is an accomplished space journalist, international TV host, and an award-winning author. In fact, she is the author of a brand-new book called Look Up that has an absolutely wonderful foreword by Apollo 11 astronaut, Michael Collins. We’ll find out about that here shortly. But Sarah is not just an award-winning author and journalist as cool as that background may be.
Sarah brings a couple other superpowers with her as she has an academic background in astrophysics. And as a global thought leader in the growing commercial space sector, so that gives her even more gravity in a universe of possibilities that are going on here. So many of you will probably recognize Sarah’s name as well as voice when you hear it here, because she’s been the host on Discovery Channel and Science Channels “Contact” program, which has seen in the United States as well as internationally.
She’s also a leading voice on space on various other television shows in the United Kingdom, as well as the United States regularly appearing on Sky, BBC, CNN, People Television, ITV news, and more. Sarah, thank you for bringing you and your superpowers in the space community here to Space4U. Thank you so much for that incredible introduction.
I think that one of the best introductions I’ve ever had, so I’ll try and keep up with the huge introduction I’ve had. And thank you for having me, I’m joining you live from London, from my spare room slash walk-in wardrobe with my NASA sweatshirt on, because this is 2020, and this is how we have to do things at the moment.
Exactly. We’re all learning. We’re all having our Apollo 13 moments and modifying our own personal spacecraft to survive. What is the pandemic? Sarah? I got to ask you as someone who was growing up in Wales, I’m curious as to your first memories and impressions of the space program and what was so attractive about it to you.
We, yeah, that’s right. I was born in Wales and then I actually grew up in near a place called Hull, which is in the Northeast of England. And to be honest with you, I can’t remember a time when space hasn’t been my passion, you, one of my first memories was of looking up at the Moon and being inspired by looking up at the Moon.
And then I remember learning about the planets at school and it must be even around six or seven years old. So right at the beginning of school and learning about the planet Venus, and it was this world, which was so impossibly different to our own. And it just blew my mind that something so. Foreign. So alien could exist in our solar system.
And then I just consumed everything I could about space. I had the telescope, um, folks, I remember really being inspired, reading a book by the also Andrew Chaikin called Man on the Moon, which basically he interviewed all of the Apollo astronauts while one. And it’s this incredible. Um, incredible collection, I guess.
And theology. Thank you. Thank you. I’m a writer. And I do, I said in my bookcase right now, as you’re talking about it, but go ahead. Oh, I’ve got it. I’ve got that in a lot of them. Yes. That book was one of the ones which inspired me. I’m a child of the nineties, but they taught me about Apollo. And I remember being inspired about the late Gus Grissom.
Obviously it was a, an unfortunate end to Gus his life, but all that he achieved and how you don’t have to always succeed to be successful because the results of the Apollo, one fire and still that no NASA astronauts was actually killed in space during the Apollo missions. And I was really inspired by that.
I was lucky enough when I was 16 years old to win a scholarship to space camp in Huntsville, Alabama. So I traveled from the UK to America on my own to go to space camp, which really changed my life. And I remember seeing, um, The sign as you enter the dormitories, basically saying through these doors walks, America’s next scientists, astronauts, and engineers.
And it just really continue to inspire me and really stuck with me. So yeah, for me, my whole life space has been my passion. It’s there from the start. Um, there’s so many space stories I could give you, but for me, I would always say to people who ask, why would you care about space? My answer would be, why would you not care about space?
You know, it’s as much about. Philosophy and a search for meaning as it is about science. And, um, for me all the possibilities, all the wonder that lies out there, and the fact that all of us alive today are living in a time where space is no longer something we can dream about, but something we can actually achieve and, you know, see humans go to space.
That’s an incredible privilege. So it’s a lifelong passion for me. So as someone you talked about being a young person, traveling to the United States, going to space camp, that had to have been a bit of what I would say. I don’t know culture shock is the right word, but again, let’s talk about it. You know, diving into the detail then to the pool, you’re going into literally a space town in space community and spending a significant amount of time.
Was that the time that it really solidified for you that, Hey, this is an area I want to play in. You know, be fair to say, please can change my life. I think all kids should be able to get scholarships to space camp. I grew up in a very poor part of the UK. I’ve lived in a welfare single parent family. And so actually going to space camp, going to Huntsville, Alabama was as far removed from my everyday life.
As going to the Moon was, it was just completely impossible. Something which I thought would never happen to me. It’s about, she’ll be able to go there and to realize, and I think a lot of things that space taught me is that she dreams do come true. And if you dream hard enough and work hard enough, you can achieve the impossible and going to space camp meeting like-minded people.
When I was 16 years old, really just taught me that. If you work hard enough, you can achieve things beyond the imagination. You mentioned Gus Grissom in your early comments. Was it Gus Grissom or was there another person in the space community that really was very particularly inspirational to you that made you want to sort of follow their footsteps?
I think there’s been so many people, the story of Glasgow systems always stuck in my mind from my childhood. I was just a baby when the Challenger accident happened. But I remember learning about the Challenger accident and I was inspired by Judy Resnik, because she was a woman who didn’t look like how astronauts were meant to look.
And she was succeeding in this man’s world and pushing barriers. And I found her story. Truly inspirational. Cause often when we think about challenges, we think of the manner in which the astronauts tragically also lies what we should, you know, to paraphrase reg and remember them instead for how they live their lives.
And the story of Judy Resnik hugely inspired me as did the story of Eileen Collins. You know, the first woman to actually come on to spacious formation and to fly a space shuttle. Again, women breaking down barriers and it’s no longer just about men who were doing science. It was about, it was women also who were succeeding in space exploration.
So you go to Huntsville, Alabama, you spend time there, you start to follow your dream. As you’ve discussed it there, I am curious what made you make the decision to go into journalism as opposed to somebody who, you know, you could build it, you could fly it or you could tell the story.
It’s always funny. I always, when I give talks to kids, I’m always like, you know, Don’t do, as I do, you know, go be an engineer, go and be a scientist, but you know, and then talk about it. But for me, I’m in England education, education systems, different to the United States. So we specialize at 16. So from 16 years old, I studied maths, advanced math, chemistry, physics, and general studies.
And then I went to astrophysics at university and it was always my plan to do a PhD. And I went backpacking around South America while I was an undergraduate student for three months. And. I saw parts of the world. I couldn’t even imagine I saw poverty that I couldn’t even imagine. I traveled to Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Argentina, and it really opened my eyes to the diversity, but also the unfairness of the world.
And when I came back from that trip, I realized that I wanted to tell stories. I wanted to. Help people see what I saw and I want you to help inspire people about what’s out there in the world. So I decided not to do a PhD and I started whilst I was still an undergraduate working unpaid at BBC local radio station, just answering the phones.
And then it kind of spiraled from that. I ended up getting paid work and then I did a master’s in broadcast journalism down in London. And. Then I became a weather presenter for BBC television and then the science correspondence, but still that, that love of space stayed with me. So when I was working as the weather presenter, why would you breakfast television in the UK?
And then in the afternoons, I would sell backstories in my free time and sell them back to the BBC about space exploration. And for a long time, it was really only the overnight radio shows, which would take my stories about space. This was like, 2010, 2011 and space wasn’t as exciting 10 years ago as it is now.
So that’s kind of, I got sidetracked. You could say what sidetrack I love with travel and foreign reporting since leaving the BBC. I’ve reported from places such as North Korea, Wanda, Uganda, the Congo, Moldova, Ukraine, transmit stereo, all these crazy kinds of places. But my, my love of space has always stayed with me.
So in 2012, I decided to leave the BBC and pursue space full time. So as someone who literally has traveled the world, you have a passport that I’m deeply envious of, uh, of what you’ve been able to see and chronicle there. But I am curious since you did take on, as you call it space full time, what’s the most exciting space story you’ve had a chance to cover for me, it would be actually the one which made me decide to follow space full-time and that was actually STS-135.
So I was working as a weather presenter at the time for the BBC. And I took leave from the BBC to go to Florida and to, to be there for the final space shuttle launch. And I didn’t have any commissions and I’m in England, we get a lot more paid holiday.
So I took this as paid leave and decided to take upon, and I ended up covering the final launch and landing of Atlantis final launch and landing the space shuttle for the BBC and it was being there on the space coast. And you know, that was my first rocket launch as well. And the only time I saw a space shuttle launch and it just, it changed my life.
It was saying that we try and we realize how to be part of the space industry. Obviously it was a very different time, but then, so there was this level coming and I remember visiting the Cocoa Beach area two years afterwards. And you could tell. Yeah, there was a slight decline in the area. There weren’t as many jobs around.
We’re now seeing a boom back on the space coast for that. But for me, covering Atlantis STS one through five, it changed my life. It showed me about the possibilities to, from space exploration about how you’ve got to dream your dreams and go out and make them happen. No one commissioned me from the BBC.
I wasn’t meant to be there. I just took it upon myself to go there. And luckily they didn’t have enough reporters, so they ended up using me. But I think sometimes you’ve got to follow your own dreams and. It’s great to see that human beings are flying at once again from the space coast. So I’d like to get your take as, as an international reporter who descends into Cocoa Beach and the space coast and experiencing all of that.
I’m curious as to do you think you look at what America is doing in space differently than say an American correspondent might be looking at that. Is do you think there’s a difference in covering that story as an international reporter coming to the United States rather than having, you know, again, the staple American reporter who I will say in some respects, you know, phones it in or, you know, tries to cover that launch.
However they do that. Do you think there’s a difference? I think to be fair, full disclosure. I have been living and working in the U S the last four or five years. So it was only this year. I’m kind of locked in London in the United Kingdom. I normally split my time between the two countries. So I, I would like to say I’m an honorary American.
And, um, and I do not. Thank you. Thank you. I’m happy to be there, but not this year, because obviously it’s not possible this year because of the situation, but yeah, I think it. I think when you’re born in America, certainly if your passion is space exploration, you’re lucky because if you want to be an astronaut, you can go out and become an astronaut.
The United Kingdom only has one official government astronaut, Tim Peake, who launched to space in 2015, we had a few British people who became Americans to then join NASA and became astronauts. And then we had Helen Sharman who was sent up by the Russians, but we’ve only had one official astronaut. So when you’re dreaming of space exploration, it’s tough.
If you’re born in the United Kingdom, it’s better now because there is more of a, an increasing space industry within the UK. But certainly for me growing up, America was the place to be. So you’re always kind of on that, that back foot, but at the same time, you were incredibly grateful for the opportunities to be there.
And you, whereas I think. If you’re born in America, space is in your DNA. Whereas if you’re not born in America, obviously I appreciate space exploration, but not everyone does because they don’t see it in the same way that you might do if you live in the United States. So certainly as someone who’s an international, I appreciate it so much.
And I’ve had to work very hard to get to a position I’m in, but also it can sometimes be a tough audience, whereas a us audience. Get space or generally get space exploration. It sometimes can be tougher in other countries communicating why space exploration matters. Well, do you think, do you look at the American program space program differently than say the Russian and the Chinese programs, their space programs?
That’s a great question. Optimists, when it comes to space exploration, um, I’m also involved with a great organization called Space for Humanity, which is a nonprofit dedicated to democratizing access to space. And what I’d really say is that tangible space for humanity sums it up because we go to space. For all of humanity.
So yes, there are different national space programs, but really if we’re to succeed as a species in space, we need to work together. And largely you look at the international space station. For example, countries generally do work together. But for me, I mean, NASA, I’m sat here wearing a NASA sweatshirt.
NASA is this international brand and it really is the gold standard almost for many people elsewhere around the world of what it means to, to explore space. I’m curious. I want to come back to this, this aspect of the international reporters. In covering the space beat because as you’ve described yourself as a world traveler, do you think these international reporters cover space differently than say American and Russian reporters might cover?
There are even Chinese reporters cover their home countries programs. Is there a difference in an international reporter covering this? No, I think it’s, I think it’s generally all the same. Obviously I can’t speak for Russian and Chinese space reporters, but I worked for, you know, international outlet. So it’s always different audiences that you, you approach.
But I think. You’re telling the same story. I mean, I’ve worked one example. I like to hear because I was working in Uganda at the end of 2019. And I remember talking to our driver, Robert. So he’s an airport taxi driver and he’s never been on an airplane. Yeah. He’s fascinated by space. He grew up in extreme poverty in a rural village in Uganda where he, he literally lived under the stars, you know, no street lights.
So he, he knows a lot about space exploration, even though he’s never even left the country or been on a flight and he knew about astronauts going into space and NASA and stuff like that. So I think the appetite is that across the world, it’s just not in the same level that it is perhaps in the United States.
But certainly, you know, if you ask most young people, most kids, the two things I love most, oh, generally space and dinosaurs, and many people sadly lose that passion as they grow up. But I think in America there’s more opportunity to hold onto it, but certainly spaces at universal story, we go into space for all of humanity.
You talked about NASA being the gold standard of what it means to explore. We have a whole new set of players that are now driving exploration besides NASA. And we’ve got private industry like SpaceX and, and ULA and Boeing and all of these other companies. And then emerging companies like Rocket Lab, et cetera.
Do you think. They have the ability to, I would say, become that future gold standard for space exploration that NASA already has established. Do you think that they’re looked at differently? Many of those companies you’ve mentioned have been around for a long time, and so at least ones that Lockheed and Boeing, but I think now this is a great international brand.
You know, although I did once, um, hear a story of how some, so you can buy to t-shirts around the world. And apparently a friend of a friend were threatened. I thought that NASA stood for not another selfie again. So there is still some international. I had not heard that one, but this is the problem. When you put NASA branding on a high fashion outlets, not in America, sometimes people don’t understand what they, the acronyms down spores.
Yeah. Not another selfie again. So I think there’s some work. To do, but generally NASA is a brand synonymous with space. Exploration goes hand in hand, you know, commercial space, expirations changing the way we do space. We’ve got this rise of new private commercial companies, plus all the old guard as well.
But really, I appreciate it. NASA is going to change as an organization over the coming decades, but really. It’s an integral part of our space stories, an integral part of what it means to humans to leave Earth. NASA is the only organization that is put human beings on the surface of the Moon. You know, and I think NASA is if you think of space exploration, most people, you know, and I can talk on behalf of England, like SMO and the United Kingdom, most people think of NASA first and foremost.
Do you think the companies that we were just talking about there, do you think they can develop a similar brand? Well, that’s a great question. You, you have a lot of great questions here. I think it really depends. I think SpaceX is definitely doing a great job, Blue Origin, you know, let’s see, you know, very excited with everything that’s happening.
Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, you know, absolutely. And I think as you know, I always like to liken well know government’s always going first when it comes to exploration and in private industry follows. So actually what we’re doing in space is no different to the way we’ve explored Earth. So I think it would be interesting to see how things change over time.
Certainly the next part of the century, you know, the rest of the century. But to me, NASA will always be NASA. It’ll always be up there and no matter what we do in space exploration, they were there at the beginning. I’m curious as you, as you mentioned, being a child of the nineties and being a baby when the challenger accident occurred and all of a sudden feeling very old.
And when you, when you mentioned that, but I I’m curious as someone who’s a scientist and a communicator. In the course of watching this story unfold. How have you seen the global space story change over the years? I’ve seen more people sit up and take notice. I think there was, there was a little, like when I love space, when I was in high school, in the nineties and early noughties space, wasn’t cool.
Like, or certainly not in the United Kingdom, it just, wasn’t a cool thing. And then we obviously had the end of the shuttle era in 2011 and there was this kind of this lull. And that’s when I got interested in commercial space exploration, I’d run around chatting to TV companies and two editors about things like space mining or usable rockets and people just weren’t interested in it.
They almost needed to see it to believe it sort of thing. So what I’ve really seen is a huge uptake, certainly within the last few years that people and, and mainstream media. And I’m not just talking about in the United States. I mean, outside of the United States actually taking interest in the space story and what’s happening now, spaces suddenly become exciting again, you know, I wasn’t around for Apollo, but it’s almost comparable to what it was like during the first space race during the year of Apollo.
And it’s, it’s, it’s great to see. It’s great to see that spaces and international story and that so many people from across the world are excited, but at the same time for me, space is always one of those great American stories. And I think is the entrepreneurial space age. As I describe it in my new book continues, that’s almost in the DNA of what it is to be American and that entrepreneurial spirit.
So I’m super excited for the changes we’ll see in the United States, in, in leading way and exploring space in this new space era. Uh, I’m glad you brought up your book. That’s a perfect segue for the next question that I’ve got and hope you’ll tell us a little bit more about Look Up and, and let me frame it around this.
As someone who’s a storyteller and a scientist here, what’s the best space story happening today that we’re not talking about? Is that what lookout it tackles or tell us a little bit more about the book, but I’m curious as, as the scientists and the communicator that you are, what’s the global space story.
We’re not talking about enough. That is a great question. That is a, I think it’s the, the value in space exploration to improve life on Earth because often we talk about space being about. Going to, you know, the lay person, I mean, talks about space, being, going to explore new worlds. And, and most people in the street, they, they get frustrated because they’re like, why are we spending so much money on space exploration when we’ve got all these problems here on Earth?
And one of the biggest challenges we will face in the coming decades. And we currently face other than COVID is our planet changing climate. And so much climate science has come from space exploration from the ability to go up and look back at Earth. And actually the final chapter of my book is called look back and I focus on the, how we can use space exploration to actually improve life on Earth and how the greatest things come from space exploration is that ability.
To look back because I think it was Lori Garver who said that maybe on the next it should be about protecting Earth’s climate and using all this space-based technology to look after space. You first. Hearing that quote reminds me of a quote from, uh, one of the members of the Apollo eight crew. We flew all the way to the Moon only to discover the Earth.
Well, I love that you say that because I use that quote in my book also. And I guess to answer the first part of your two-part question, which is about my book, my book is basically a bit of my personal story. Why I care about space so much. And then it’s the story of how we got to space. You know, the history of humanity, how we’re born, explorers, how everything we did on Earth.
That is to this moment today to, to being able to no longer dream or to wonder about what was up there in stars, but to finally be able to, to reach the star, send humans to the stars, then it takes in the, the story of the space race, and then look at dedication, determination, and sacrifice the people behind space exploration and how.
Yeah. Anyone who works in the space industry, I’m not just astronauts, but anyone there’s a certain amount of dedication there. And I think even as a lay person, you can take inspiration from stories of people who’ve worked in space industry, particularly from historical figures. So I, I talk about people such as Katherine Johnson, as well as Gus Grissom, one of my favorites and also Christa McAuliffe.
She was, uh, you know, when I was researching this book, I went down quite a deep dive, watching old videos of Christa. And she’s always remembered as a teacher from the challenger, but she was. So extraordinary, so extraordinary. She, um, planned on keeping a diary in space and, and back in an era before social media, as the first ever space flight participant, she would have been the first ordinary person to keep a diary in.
And her inspiration came from early settlers to the United States and how they would keep diaries. And her message was to students that the ordinary person contributed to history and that she is an ordinary person would be contributing to history. And then the book looks at. Face on it with how, you know, like going to space has transformed space on Earth, then not the entrepreneurial space age, where we’re heading in our space future before finally concluding with, look back the final chapter, which is about how the greatest thing conference space exploration is the ability to see Earth and how that’s changed people.
And I also have to give a shout out to astronaut Michael Collins, because I’m so grateful that he took the time to write the foreword for Look Up: Our Story with the Stars. And it’s, it’s just hugely inspirational that he’s done that and his words. And, and I feel like I’ve entered quite a stellar lineage because it was Charles Lindbergh who wrote the foreword for Michael Collins, his book, Carrying the Fire.
And now Michael Collins has written the foreword for my book. So it’s an incredible honor. There’s no pressure there. There’s no pressure there whatsoever that you could possibly feel that. Let me ask you, how did you connect with Michael Collins to give you that foreword for your book? Oh, that’s a top, top secret.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get, I think is that, but I, I I’ve been lucky enough to work with, if you have the Apollo astronauts and Michael, so it’s just, it’s just one of those things it’s networking, isn’t it. But I, I was so grateful to him for being involved with this book. You talk about history and, and recording that story.
The UK has an incredible history of, of literally pioneering the seas exploring and doing the literally opening new worlds. I I’m curious as to your take on how you see the UK developing its place in the global space economy. And what do you see for the UK future in space? And I always thought it was a bit of a stereotype, but Americans, a great appeal.
And then they shout about their achievements, the UK doesn’t you guys kind of awkward. You’re like you guys learn about public speaking in school. We don’t. So we, you know, mostly terrible presenters, not TV parents, but terrible at presenting in front of audiences and stuff, because we don’t learn about it in school.
We have to learn as an adult. And I think the UK often doesn’t shout enough about its achievement. So the UK is a world leader in small satellites and SSTL is a great company. For example, Clyde spaces and another great company. The UK is. Doing a lot of great things in space. And I think what we’ll see, certainly with organizations such as Virgin, albeit, which is going to be based down in Cornwall, which is in the Southwest of the UK or having a base in Coleman Southwest the UK is that we’ll see a boom in the small satellite industry, which we’re already seeing.
And no, we won’t likely have our own version of Cape Canaveral in the sense that we’ll, we’ll launch astronauts to space that the UK certainly has got. A huge growing space industry, but just not in the same way that America does, but I think what we will also see over the coming decades, as we see more and more humans go to space, is there is a change in the human part space by in the United Kingdom, I guess one of the things.
Well, uh, again, since you’ve been to Florida, you understand the issues with weather and launches. I thought, I think you will have encountered similar challenges in, uh, uh, launch facilities in good weather. Yeah, depending on where you want to launch there. Now, I want to come back to the aspect of you being the scientist and the communicator.
Because again, I think you’ve had this experience where you can meet some absolutely brilliant people who literally could fly your washing machine backwards and landed on the asteroid or planet of your choice, but not be able to explain why that’s a good idea. And I was struck at a comment that you made there about that the UK students aren’t.
Are given, you know, public speaking lessons as they’re growing up. Well, it may not be, maybe not get as much given as in the United States here. You know, we Americans, you know, we have an opinion. We’ll tell you anything. We, anything gets on our mind and not stop. But I am curious about your experience of working with.
Very technical people and helping to translate into common terms and the, the challenge that has gone on with that, what would be the guidance that you would give to, again, these brilliant men and women about how they ought to be communicating with the public, to help them understand the value that space is bringing to life on Earth.
All your questions are fantastic. I think sometimes not always, but we’ve got to remember if we’re going to succeed in space exploration. We have to have everyone on board because if it’s just a niche fraction of society that gets it, that understands well, why don’t we go to space that understands the science, then appetite and interest will decrease and wain, and then there’ll be questions over funding.
And so if we’re going to go into space, we need to do so for all of humanity. So I think my, my first argument to these scientists would be that. If you want to succeed in what you’re doing, people need to understand about it. You know, you’ve got responsibility, not only to inspire the next generation to carry that flame of what you’re doing and go that extra step further, but also to inspire people from all walks of life because space enriches people’s lives.
And one of the things I try and do with my work is inspire. People of all different ages. I don’t care whether you’re six or 66 or 106 there’s value in your life being inspired by going out and looking up a little bit more and particularly in what it’s been a difficult year for so many, I feel like space exploration can provide hope.
So. My advice to scientists will be. And I think most scientists know this. Most scientists have become great at telling that story, but is when we come to public funding, certainly you need to talk about your work. You need to explain what you’re doing it, but just, if you want to succeed in general, the more people who understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and why it matters so much, the better.
You’re an accomplished writer, an accomplished journalist working with both industry as well as researchers and a lot of different areas. And now you’ve got the new book here. What is the book that Sarah Cruddas wants to write? That is a great question. So I’ve done four books Look Up is my fourth. So having a slight pause about space exploration, and maybe ask me that question without space, expression about books.
Maybe you’ll ask that question to me in a couple of years, but certainly the concept of it improving life on Earth and you know, there’s great also called Frank White, who. Coined the term, the overview effect. And I think as we’ve seen more and more humans go to it’s all walks of life, it will be great to tell their stories.
Okay. So with the advent of all these commercial flight opportunities, space flight opportunities coming about how soon can we expect you to be recording from Earth? Oh my gosh. I’m not sure, but maybe several. So hopefully it would be amazing. Wouldn’t it to have within the next decade, journalists. Film styles and, and, and social media styles, but also people from all kinds of backgrounds, people, you know, a woman from a village in India, how would she change her community if she went to space or, you know, a house husband from Arkansas?
I think we need to send people from all walks of life, into space, not just journalists, but of course, I think we’re gonna. We’re going to see changes in industry, you know, change is happening faster than many people can imagine. So I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few decades, we certainly saw journalists go to space, perhaps even this decade.
Um, and that does change everything because, you know, we sent scientists and engineers despite fewer than 600 people have been sent to space. Most of them have been scientists, engineers, or military personnel, or a combination of all three and they’ve come back. Artists they’ve come back and power religion, or a deep love for our planet.
So what happens when you send the yourself? Or, or people who work in all different kinds of backgrounds, how will they. Go back to the communities and, and communicate what they saw. That is a fabulous point. And as you say that I’m looking at my bookcase and seeing my book of Alan Bean of the art that he put up.
And again, Michael Collins, who you have had the fortune of, uh, meeting and knowing and writing the foreword for your book is also a pretty, uh, accomplished artist and in watercolors, et cetera. So you’re right. They have come back as very changed individuals. It will be interesting to see that switch. But I’m not going to let you go here until I asked this question of you, Sarah.
And that is as someone who has been a scientist, a journalist and a writer. I want to know what your first words would be when you set foot on either the Moon or Mars. That is another great question. Top marks from all these questions, I feel like. Because while I was here, we’ve had Neil Armstrong’s first contact words.
You’d, you’d have to reference those when you returned to the Moon, but certainly not in the way that Pete Conrad did, which was “Whoopie!” That may have been a long one for a small one for Neil, but that was a long one for me. And perhaps even the words of Gene Cernan who was of course the last human being set foot on the Moon.
But for me, setting for a Mars that changes everything because that is the beginning of humanity. Becoming a multi-planetary species and Mars is a place where we could potentially find evidence. We’ll hopefully find evidence to ask the question. Are we alone or not? In the universe? There could be microbial life still on Mars.
We could find out that life on Earth was seeded. By a Martian may charge in the early formation. So the system, and even if none of that happens, even if miles is completely barren, it’s our first step, really into the cosmos and to no longer just existing or one planet. So I guess my first words, and I think this is such a tricky question.
It’d be something along the lines of by setting foot on another world. We do so not just for all of humanity, but for all those who came before us, because everything we do in space exploration is only possible. Because of those who took the first steps in space and those who explored Earth and those who left the caves and were curious enough to look up and to wander.
So I think, yeah, we’re building on each generation, I think set foot on another world and to, to, to do something which seems so impossible for humanity. You need to remember all those who came before you. And with that, Sarah, we’re going to hold you to those words because I fully expect that you will be one of those persons that we see that is telling that story of a multi-planetary species.
Thank you for joining us. And with that, I want to recommend to you Sarah’s new book called Look Up: Our Story with the Stars. You can find that on any number of book outlets. So hopefully when we are in a post COVID world, she’ll be in a town near you, and we’ll be able to sign that book when we all, as a space community can start to gather again.
But again, her book is called Look Up: Our Story with the Stars, and that is going to conclude this conversation for the Space4U podcast. Please remember to keep an eye on what we’re doing with the Space4U podcasts by going to space foundation.org, and don’t forget our new digital platform Space Symposium 365.
That is bringing not just only the legacy content of our previous Space Symposiums, but also exclusive programming that you will only hear on Space Symposium 365 from newsmakers and leaders from across the world. That concludes this episode of the Space4U podcast and remember at the Space Foundation, we will always have space for you.
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