Shoot For the Moon


I realize this is a little off-topic, but I was so excited about this that I had to share it. Last night, I had the privilege of shooting an event for Autodesk called Design Night. This is a monthly event held at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. The theme changes every month, though every theme is around some aspect of design (because that’s what Autodesk software is made to facilitate).

This month’s theme was “Found In Space” and featured various speakers from businesses who are focused on space exploration and research. They included Commander Chris Hadfield, now a celebrity astronaut for his YouTube video cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”  filmed aboard the International Space Station, brilliant astronaut/doctor Col. Yvonne Cagle, who currently works for NASA, Dr. Bob Richards, CEO of Moon Express and founder of International Space University, and Mike Chen, Strategic Officer of Made In Space, which has built a 3D printer that can work in space, potentially solving all sorts of issues for space dwellers (Apollo 13 would have been a minor issue if they had Made In Space’s printer).

The picture of me above is with Andy Aldrin, son of Buzz Aldrin and the new President of Moon Express. The name Aldrin is basically synonymous with moon exploration and Andy, besides bearing the legendary name, is a veteran in the industry. Moon Express is sending an unmanned probe to the moon in 2015 and plans to use their robots to bring moon rock back to Earth by 2020.

You might think one would feel a bit insubstantial in the presence of these literal rocket scientists, but each one was as humble and gracious as you could possibly imagine. Chris Hadfield, probably the biggest celebrity of the bunch thanks social media, talked and took photos with admirers for over an hour after his talk. Yvonne Cagle spent a lot of time talking with the many children who came to learn about space. And Bob Richards mischievously showed off his Yoda brooch when he found out I was the photographer.

Most importantly, I learned more about the moon in a few hours than I had in years of going to school. I always thought going to the moon was cool, but other than for research purposes, why would we bother to return. It was kind of like Las Vegas for me; once you’ve been there, there’s no compelling reason to go back.

It turns out the moon holds great potential for solving many of the real problems facing us today. The moon is loaded with rare elements and minerals that we are using up here on Earth. Some of the plentiful elements  on the moon exist on Earth in extremely small quantities, but if we had access to more of them, we could create new, potentially safer sources of energy. The moon also has water, which apparently could make it useful as a base for launching manned and unmanned missions to deeper space.

These are people who have created goals for themselves that are literally out of this world and have, or will, attained them. My experience hearing from them reminds me that there is no goal too audacious, and we shouldn’t let our weaknesses, real or perceived, hold us back from trying to reach the stars.

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