No, I don’t mean ET, I mean humanity’s voyages to the surface of Mars, NASA’s Viking Program. I was very young when the missions landed in two locations in 1976, so I honestly don’t remember it all that well from that time. However, as I got older, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos television series came out on PBS, and I was transfixed by all that show had to offer a hungry mind. The episode on the Mars, Blues for a Red Planet, dealt heavily with what was initially learned about taking those early long voyages from our familiar lands to those new, alien shores. It transfixed me with the audacity of the missions, and the unique landscape, though what really struck me how real it was.
Even at that young age, the machinery of the landers made some innate sense to me. It was advanced technology, certainly, but I could still see the screws, and the metal, and plastic, all of it, and given the clarity of the pictures, it was like I could reach out and touch it. HUmans built the landers, and I can do it, too, I thought. I can say that was when I cemented my path to working in the space industry, and while I didn’t know what all of it was then that I was really seeing, my past decades on NASA programs designing flight hardware, seeing it put together and flown, I find new joy today looking at those pictures of the Vikings. I know what’s in those landers, and can imagine some of the struggles to get them put to task just right to sail to the distant, red horizon of Mars.