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Starship. The Next Generation

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Cosmonauts ahead of their flight into space, 1985
Albert Pushkaryow/TASS

In 1996, I found a short article in the Dziennik Łódzki about the construction of the international space station. Literally maybe 100-200 characters, a single black and white photo, somewhere in between politics and sports. At the time, we were barely absorbing a handful of Star Trek TNG episodes played on Polish television at such hours that we were usually in school. And then, all of a sudden, such news hit the road! I thought it was on par with the stations from Space Odyssey, because, for some reason, the interplanetary world, warp speed travel, seemed tangible, although far from what the space program looked like in the 90s. I remember Tuesday’s science program strips, there was an “Alfa” programme about the construction of the station – and those three cosmonauts in the lead heading toward the Soyuz…. something that still lights up my eyes to this day…. There they showed the Shuttle-MIR project, preparation for the construction of the ISS. Finally, in November 1998, the first modules of the station, Unity and Zarya went into orbit. I dreamed about it non-stop. And it was like a dream within the reach for me. I was about to go to high school at the time, and the option of becoming professionally involved in the space sector looked real, although at that time, in Poland, it was not obvious.

Atlantis Docked to Mir

Fast forward to 2024. My son’s favorite video is Starship’s second test flight, this one. He watches it over and over again. He was born at a time when rockets started to regularly taking off and landing at Cape Canaveral. Even model shuttles made of blocks, a wooden carrot rabbit rocket, take off and land as if was a piece of cake, something ordinary. And this is barely the last few years – just recently, in 2018, we watched the launch and landing of the first Falcon Heavy. On the screen of a small iPhone on a Pendolino train, at Wroclaw Central Station, just before departing for Warsaw. Real-time.

Falcon Heavy Demo Mission

My brother’s children, my brother-in-law’s children don’t know a day without the presence of humans in orbit, it’s something absolutely natural that people don’t think about, the kids still don’t. But for me it’s mind-blowing, within a decade or two, space will become something as accessible to them as a trip trough the western border. It’s just, to the marrow of bones, infinitely amazing.

I have a quiet dream that they will take me to the Moon with them. In a Starship of this or the next generation.