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Share Your Story • Geoff Richardson • December 27, 2018

Boldly Going

Boldly Going

How a 7-year old boy fell in love with the cosmos...

Like all good stories, this one starts a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away... The year was 1997, and it was the year my love for space exploration was born. I can never forget the early morning in mid-October, when my father woke me up at 2am to watch as the Titan IV rocket, carrying the Cassini-Huygens mission, launched from Florida towards its ultimate destination: the sixth planet in our solar system, Saturn. I never took much interest in things related to space prior to this, but I was exposed to it since as early as I can remember. My father was an enjoyer of amateur astronomy, having owned a few small telescopes and taking me & my 2 sisters outside in our backyard for a glimpse at the moon and the occasional star. In my dad's pursuit of trying to find the best view of things off-planet that he could, one of the great challenges and benchmark of a telescope's quality to him was the ability to see the rings of Saturn in as high detail as possible. While most of his efforts were average at best, it was always fun to join him in our backyard, tinkering with a scope or looking online for others who were mounting cameras to their equipment and producing outstanding amateur astrophotography images that I still admire to this day. It was in that spirit of excitement that he was anxious to see Cassini lift-off and travel towards Saturn, hoping to get the most high-definition images of rings and moons ever seen before. That launch was the first rocket launch I could ever remember watching, but by no means my last. To see such power and raw intensity escape the confines of our planet was something every young boy should experience, and it lit within me a love of the cosmos and a desire to explore the far reaches of the expanse. I'm now 28 and my father will be 50 this coming summer, and though I no longer live at home as I did when I was a boy, we still watch footage of the various space agencies and marvel at the things accomplished in such a short span of time. Its a testament of the tenacity and curious nature of humanity, and in my opinion, part of what makes us great. Even though Cassini ended its mission in 2017, I look back fondly at the milestones of that project and how it grew in scope as I grew into youth and adulthood. Fly-bys of Titan, Phoebe, & Enceladus were images I couldn't wait to see. The history of mankind is marked with triumphs of exploration, and in my own life, it has been a joy to watch those triumphs unfold through the years. This is why I support space exploration, and why I support The Planetary Society.

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