INGRID THOFT: Pretend it’s 2011, and you get a phone call from NASA. They’re staffing the last flight of the space shuttle, and amazingly enough, there’s a seat for you if you want it! Do you accept and get ready to don those adult diapers under your flight suit? Or do you hang up the phone, relieved that your feet will remain firmly planted on terra firm?
This is a question my husband and I have contemplated at various times, and his response is always swift and unequivocal: Yes! Sign me up! In the past, my inclination has been to stay at home and eagerly await his return, but recently, I’ve had a change of heart. Perhaps it’s just age or maybe it’s the state of the world, but that opportunity seems too good to miss. I’m not suggesting I would sign up for the one-way trip to Mars, but an opportunity to gain a whole new perspective on Planet Earth is strangely appealing.
What about you, Reds? Prepare for liftoff or grab a good book and your afghan for some hygge?
LUCY BURDETTE: Good lord, they have to wear diapers? Can you hear the pounding of footsteps? That's me, running away from this "opportunity" as quickly as I can. My husband would probably be itching to go too, Ingrid, and then there would be a family squabble about the risk. And I'd have to say something along the lines of "I'm going to give all your money away to cat charities if you croak on this trip, you know that, right?"
In other words, anyone is welcome to my seat on the flight!
HALLIE EPHRON: Make that a twofer. I'll sit this one out with Lucy, thank you very much. In fact, I can pass on most of what passes for "adventure" travel. I would like to see the Northern Lights, but from terra firma. But these days I'm savoring the smaller pleasures of everyday life. A child's laughter. Corny, I know. But I don't need to be wowed.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Ha. I actually had to face this. In 19...80 something? NASA asked for applications for the first journalist in space. I thought: yes, indeedy! Sign me right up. I sent off for that application, and filled in out in a frenzy of excitement (and ambition). The last element of the app was to write a 500 word essay on why one wanted to be the first journalist in space. Well, I thought, okay, this might be a valuable thing---it'll make me really think about the answer. As I contemplated the lift off, the trip, the vast hideous darkness of infinite space.....ahhhhh. I decided: NOT A CHANCE. I still have that unsent application somewhere. (Not to be a downer--but I also covered the Christa McAuliffe story.) Ingrid, your brain is telling you something--but it is interesting how many astronauts come home with an intensely changed perspective.
Jenn: SIGN ME UP! I would absolutely do it. Not in 2011, however, it would have to be 2021 for me so the last hooligan has launched himself off to college. I mean zero gravity -- bring it on! Okay, so that was my answer before I did some research on facts about living in space (librarian). Here's a fascinating link that made me hesitate just a smidgeon: 10 Fascinating Facts About Living in Space. But even with the threat of bad hair days, the inability to shower, and chicken legs, yep, I still think I'd go. Maybe.
LUCY: I cannot tell you how terrible that article makes space travel look!! I would find it hard to even know where to start LOL, but having had Ménière's symptoms, the nausea is a pretty good place. Jenn and Ingrid will have to go on their own I'm afraid…or maybe Rhys?
RHYS BOWEN: Not me! Not even when I was younger and super fit. I have always hated roller coasters and training on that zero gravity machine and in a zero gravity flight would be my worst nightmare. I even freaked out on the Disney Star Wars ride! And John is super claustrophobic so there is no way you would get him in a small capsule. I just saw Hidden Figures (the best film I've seen in ages) and envied those math whizzes who could calculate the trajectories. But I'll stay firmly on the ground and gaze in awe up at the stars!
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Add me to the NO column. NO NO NO. Like Lucy, I have Meniere's Syndrome, and anything that is even remotely likely to make me dizzy I avoid at all costs. Add the toilet issues, the body atrophy, the damage to the brain (fascinating article!), and ACK. Still, it's so interesting, and I'm really glad there are people who are willing to do it. I would love to see the stars and the earth from space. How could that not change your perspective on our little isolated planet?
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Sign me up for the 2030 Mission to Mars! Sure, I'll be 69, but they'll need a little elder wisdom to help out all the ridiculously healthy youngsters, right?
I've always loved the idea of space flight, and I'd go in a second. If I had had a shred of mathematical or engineering talent, I could see myself having gone into something in the aerospace industry. Unfortunately, my gifts are limited to writing, mothering, singing and hygge, and sadly, those talents don't seem to be in high demand for NASA shuttle flights.
Colonization, on the other hand... think about it - what could be better, more exciting, than leaving the cradle of humanity and striking out into the void? Mars will need singers and writers as well as mechanics and engineers. And after all, John Glenn was 77 on his last space flight.