The Swan and Strangers
Being a stranger is the hardest things that can happen to anyone in all this world. We recently celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday here in the Land of Enchantment. The lucky ones in our community celebrated with friends, family and loved ones including pets. We all know there are people less fortunate than us, and as winter approaches, the cold nights make it clear, some of us are left out literally in the cold. I am proud to be in a community where we are intentional about making sure the less fortunate are looked after, including our veterans. I was poor for many years. Poverty is painful and dangerous. I learned this lesson because I chose to learn it. I chose poverty. Stupid I know, but I did. Why? I was raised in a middle class family, privileged to have a strong religious and educational background. So why choose poverty? Poverty was considered a virtue and was part of the religious training in my catholic all girls’ schools. The Sisters of Charity, the same order that came to New Mexico with Bishop Lamy, were the nuns that taught me in Saint Aidan’s school in New York. Like most young girls, I admired my teachers. They were kind, smart and gave me many gifts over the eight years I was among them. I overcame poverty because I wanted to give back. Educating myself about wealth is an ongoing course of instruction.
Surrounded by other young girls who were interested in learning and gifted, we all studied hard. We competed against each other to be the best in math, English, and when we were trained in receiving the sacraments, we strove to get 100s on all the tests. It showed not only our teachers but each other, we were worthy. We were a part of something bigger than ourselves and our families. We were part of the church family too. I loved it and I thrived in this environment. My family made fun of me. I loved going to church, it was a place of peace for me. A place of acceptance. Growing up can be a terrible time sometimes for kids, there are so many stark contrasts. You are loved, then ridiculed by people who are supposed to love you. And so it goes for the rest of life.
I wondered what drew me into the business I am in now. My work is hard to separate from me. People say we are not our work. Nonsense. One of many comments I got on my Einstein article was from a 96 year old engineer. His work is still his life. He wrote to me in language I understand and with great passion that inspired me. He lives as an engineer to help mankind, and he is still doing his life’s work. How else can our society expect to survive and continue to prevail unless those of us who have been given great gifts keep giving back? Our community is filled with givers.
Now this business of space, it’s a tough one. Yet, it isn’t the priesthood. People believe it is a hard business to get into. It’s a business that wants and needs people. However, the entry fee is steep, I agree. Immigrants to a new country have to learn the language. It’s one of the first barriers in any land, learn the language. No one is teaching the language of space in our elementary and secondary schools. The Challenger Center is a start, and I commend our school district for this investment. Yet, I wonder how many science classes note the Cygnus spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station right now. People tell me when they want to learn more about the space industry, they feel like immigrants in a new country. It’s ok to be an immigrant in the space industry, we want you.
Cygnus is the Greek word for swan, and also the name of a cargo spacecraft launched on December 6th from Kennedy Space Center. The cargo ship, Cygnus, was launched into orbit by the Atlas 5 rocket. The Cygnus, built by Orbital ATK, carries 7,000 pounds of supplies and science experiments. This is the 4th re-supply mission for Orbital ATK under NASA’s commercial resupply contract. The Atlas 5 rocket was developed early in the cold war to carry intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). The Atlas 5 rocket that launched Cygnus was built by United Launch Alliance (ULA). It is a partnership with Boeing and Lockheed Martin. We have both companies in our community probably over 200 employees sprinkled over both Nasa White Sands Test Facility and White Sands Missile Range, possibly 300 or more Boeing employees in El Paso. Cygnus will be grappled or grabbed at approximately 6:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, by NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, using the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to take hold of the spacecraft. Cygnus will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash from the space station. I’d like to help more of our community members learn our language. The space business is a wonderful asset, a gift our country has given itself. I will keep giving back as long as I can, please don’t make fun of me for doing so. And, if you like, I will help you learn our language. If you got to the end of this article, congratulate yourself and welcome.