Space is an Unforgiving environment & yet more than 600+ people have taken the audacious task of being an astronaut. Since the age of time, humans have been explorers, pioneers, and curious creatures. We’ve always tried to push our understanding of science every step of the way as we evolved into the species we are today.
Growing up, I doubt I envisioned or dreamed about becoming an astronaut. Not because I didn’t know what an astronaut was, but because from the side of the tracks where I come, we aren’t allowed to dream about becoming anything more than an office clerk or having a desk job. I read books about space and heard people talking about the Columbia disaster. Although I was merely a 7-year-old child and struggled to read as English wasn’t my first language, I remember persistently asking my mother to read newspaper articles.
I lived with my grandparents for most of my early childhood, and our house was near an airport; where I spent hours watching airplanes take off and land from the window. I knew that I would never possibly fly in one of these vehicles in this lifetime, but I kept annoying my grandmother by telling her that one day I will. She laughed it off as we laugh at a child making far-reaching claims. By the time I was 23, I had managed to travel halfway around the world, and attain a formal graduate education in a field I had been passionate about since the age of 9, working as a Systems Engineer, trying to solve complex infrastructure problems. I didn’t realize until then that there was an infinitesimal possibility that I could try to qualify for the astronaut candidacy program. The people I tried talking to pleaded with me to drop the idea, and I understood their sentiment. They didn’t want me to lose the stability I had achieved through years of struggle during my youth.
As there is no feat noble & greater than pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and exploring the unknown, becoming an astronaut also means being a part of something much bigger than yourself and dedicating your life to an endeavor that will enable future generations to live and grow in a world distinctly better than what it is today. It means being a part of a team that trusts you to perform a task that’s never been undertaken before. Being an astronaut means possessing discipline, commitment, grit, a good character, and humility in oneself; moreover, it also means realizing the responsibility that’s bestowed upon you.
I’ve always worn multiple hats in my day-to-day life as a researcher, engineer, architect, explorer, and if I could use my passion for science and technical problem solving to an idea that extends to more than just a few individuals, then what’s the harm in that? The pursuit of becoming an astronaut goes more than the money/time spent on becoming one but rather contributing selflessly to humankind after it.
The very thought of wearing that blue uniform one day powers me to constantly train, work & study harder, push myself beyond my comfort zone, and aspire to improve my physical and psychological fitness.
“He who jumps into the void owes no explanation to those who stand and watch.”
And as cringeworthy as it sounds, I’m proud to say,
“We’re the martian generation.”