In China's Shadow
December 1, 2013
I have been a space enthusiast forever, maybe since my primary school presentation on Black Holes, maybe since reading my first Science Fiction book about Quasars, but my revelation only really came about last year, at the end of 2012.
I was on an exchange semester in Beijing, China, and this had two space-related consequences on me:
First, I discovered the ambitious Chinese space program, something very different from the traditional NASA-stuff: Extremely ambitious, because they start from scratch and without much experience, but they go full-thrust on the money, and they're making progress unbelievably fast.
Second, because of the Chinese Firewall, I lost access to youtube, facebook, twitter, all the good occidental stuff, and found myself with a lot of spare time on my hands, and the need for something exciting to watch/read/do. When reading broken wikipedia pages was not enough anymore, I discovered that NASA's video gallery was accessible from Chinese Internet (it was not youtube-based at the time). So I started watching all NASA videos, about 5 per day, from the 5-minutes Curiosity Rover Reports to the 2-hours press conferences. All of them, for 6 months.
I guess the culmination point of this story is when a new "In Saturn's Shadow" picture was published. A photo taken from the other side of Saturn, so far away from us, and I realized that we were there, in Space, taking pictures, figuring out how stuff works beyond our nice little Earth. We are orbiting, roving, drilling, sampling different planets. Moreover, it's not just the American Government, it's other players like Europe, China, India, etc. and private companies like SpaceX, Bigelow, Planetary Resources, and the likes.
This gave me the poignant need to help as much as possible making Humanity multi-planetary, for mostly two reasons: I have a profound love for Humanity and would love this species to succeed, and I have a selfish desire to make Space Access cheaper so I can go to space myself one day.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.