When did it stop becoming cool to want to be an astronaut?

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It’s one of the most common questions to be asked when you’re in elementary school. It’s a question that is not meant to be taken too seriously — and nowhere near the same context as when you were asked this question as a 10th grader sitting in the office of your guidance counselor.

Instead, the question is asked for fun. It must be amusing for teachers — and adults in general — to see how little kids responded when posed with a question about their future careers. For one, it’s an interesting social experiment. You can learn what jobs kids even know about at such a young  age.

Everybody’s elementary school yearbook probably even asked this question. And if you were to go back and survey it, the answers would probably all be the same — professional athletes, movie star, rock singer, etc.

You’d never see somebody answer the question with bank manager or certified public accountant. As kids, we dreamed big. Heck, we dreamed so big, that our imaginations exceeded normal jobs. Our imaginations took us beyond the realms of societal standards, away from noisy offices, tall buildings and busy cities — heck, they even took us out of our own planet.

Think about it. Remember. When we were kids, how often did we dream about wanting to see the moon, see the stars? How many of you ever said — “I want to be an astronaut.”

Becoming an astronaut may be one of the biggest pipe dreams known to mankind.  The most delusional kids still cling on to hopes of becoming a famous actor or actress, or a professional baseball player into their teenage years. But no one ever maintains the notion that they have any chance of ever becoming an astronaut.

When we’re 4 or 5, then yeah. We don’t know any better. The world was so big to us — so what made outer space any different? We could go there if we wanted. But once we hit age 8, even then we knew how unrealistic it would be for us to ever pursue a career beyond our planet’s atmosphere. So we gave it up. And we forgot about it.

In the last 10 years, how many people have you met who still had aspirations of becoming an astronaut?

It saddens me a little because I feel that loss in desire corresponds with a loss of innocence, or a loss of imagination. The day we stop dreaming of becoming an astronaut might be the same day we stop believing in Santa Claus.

But the thing that people might forget is that people really do become astronauts. And I really hope that our youth doesn’t forget that.

There is plenty of magic still to be discovered in outer space.

And that magic can be seen in this video right here. Watch. Trust me.

Chris Hadfield is quickly becoming one of the most famous astronauts since, well, Neil Armstrong? Tom Hanks? Alright fine — let’s say John Glenn. Most people know him, right?

If you search Chris Hadfield on YouTube, you will find tons of videos with him conducting wacky and interesting experiments while in outer space. He seems to have quite the endearing personality, and he is making a name for himself among people who never even had the faintest interest in outer space.

So then what does he go and do? He records the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie — in space. My first thought is how difficult a decision it must have been for him to choose between that song and Rocket Man. Both would have been equally as poignant, I think.

But hey, even David Bowie himself appreciated this version, calling it “the most poignant version of the song ever created.”

If you can watch that video and not find yourself reminiscing about that childlike wonder you once had, and about how you used to dream of the impossible — then I feel bad for you.

When we were 5 years old, the thought of becoming an astronaut was as cool as being a rock star. That obviously changed as we aged. But I truly, truly, hope, that 5-year-olds today don’t feel the same way. I hope dreaming of becoming an astronaut is still as cool as it ever was.

This video will help.

2 thoughts on “When did it stop becoming cool to want to be an astronaut?

  1. My cousin and her husband work for NASA! My cousin is on the New Horizons Mission going to Pluto (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html) and her husband is on the Messenger Mission for Mercury. On an unrelated note, their wedding toppers were models of their respective mission satellites. Anyway, I remember when I was little and I found out she wanted to be an Astronaut, I freaked out a little because I was worried about Apollo 13, which had just come out. It’s actually really cool (if not completely over my head) to hear her give lectures about her mission. It’s worth a look! I was always terrified about space travel, the idea of being somewhere that if something went wrong you couldn’t be saved was absolutely terrifying.

  2. I’m 19 and I’ve never stopped wanting to be an astronaut, most important aim in my life

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