Fiesta and conference season are upon us here in the Land of Enchantment. As we work overtime daily to put the finishing touches on the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight and the Community Partnership Luncheon, the event organizing roller coaster ride continues. I have a suggestion for everyone participating in any of our community events, whether football or fiesta. Show gratitude to those folks who labored to create these events. We are a fortunate society.
Whether it is the upcoming Whole Enchilada Fiesta or the just completed celebrations surrounding the Sixteenth of September, these events have showcased our talents, products, and people. We share not only with each other but also with the people who traveled here to join us. Thousands of us are involved.
We are a nation of great promise whose future is dependent on the commitment of individuals to create and innovate. We are fortunate to have so many choices to come together and celebrate; there is so much promise just over our horizon.
Don Pettit, chemical engineer and astronaut, recently wrote an article while aboard the International Space Station. The article titled,”The tyranny of the rocket equation”, was published in AdAstra magazine. The rocket equation looks simple – here it is.
Mf=1- e(-âˆ†v/ve). But like space travel, it is complex. The equation captures the variables involved in how a rocket gets to space.
Rockets are what we use to get to space right now. Rockets are momentum machines. Burt Rutan, the designer of the system that will ferry passengers to space from Spaceport America, is working to help us lessen the tyranny of the rocket equation by using an aircraft to launch a spacecraft.
I am not an engineer. There is no other way to describe it but excitement when I see this simple equation. It helps me understand the beauty engineers see because they are viewing the world differently than I do. Don Pettit deeply understands how to get to space. Understanding, it is the beginning.
The love affair humans have with space travel is like a first crush. You love from afar. You may get close, but you are not ready for love. Moving from understanding to mastery requires knowledge and practice. The rocket equation for rocketeers was like giving a student who just got accepted into Julliard their first fabulous violin and bow. With the gift of the instrument, the journey gains momentum. The rocket equation clearly identified what it takes to move mass to space. You can Google the rocket equation for the description of the three variables captured in the equation.
Escaping the tyranny of a bad government takes a huge amounts of energy and momentum. When Mexico fought for its independence from Spain, everyone had to fight together. Rich and poor, Mexican, Indian, and Mesizos, they were all involved. The war went on for eleven years. Now, Mexican Independence Day is a day of celebration. Once Mexico escaped tyranny, they put their energy into building a great society and they moved on to solve the bigger problems of nationhood.
Solving the rocket equation was like Independence Day for rocketeers. They were able to move on and start building the vehicles that took us to the moon. We have been celebrating the life of Neil Armstrong this week. Beth O’Leary, a member of the NMSU faculty has written about Neil, you may soon find in the Sun News.
Escaping the tyranny of any undesirable circumstance can be overcome with purposeful action. Almost without exception, the fiestas, celebrations and conferences have an eventual outcome of supporting a greater good. Conferences and symposia are ways for people to learn and share knowledge. In a university town, we are have many opportunities to learn and gain greater understanding. Similarly, fiestas and celebrations are gatherings around food, music and cultural exchange, which accomplish the same ends as conferences. We share knowledge and understanding.
For those of us in the space business, we are also in the pioneering business. Some of the motivation for escaping the bounds of earth comes from deep inside the human psyche. We know some day, if we don’t kill ourselves off as a species, we will live off the planet. We are not ready yet, but we are gaining understanding.
Whether it is a football game, soccer, fiesta or conference, it is our coming together that is worth celebrating. I ask we all work on gratitude this season because we are able to gather in peace in this country.