I was trying to get some context around Wednesday’s manned rocket launch. Who is flying? Who made the spacecraft? Where are they going?
(Some of those questions took me down a rabbit trail to the NASA astronaut page, where I read that evidently an astronaut is retiring. This is a strange concept. How can an astronaut retire? I suppose you could stop giving interviews? Your Wikipedia page is still going to say Astronaut.)
It’s confusing that we now have astronauts flying on private Tesla-built spacecraft. They’ll arrive at the launch pad in a Tesla: that’s just worrisome. It’s also worrisome that the NASA spaceflight head just stepped down days ago, but they assure us that it was because of a bad decision that doesn’t affect the mission.
Finally, I tracked down the name of one of the astronauts — seriously, imagine a 60’s child having to “track down” John or Virgil or Buzz or Wally — and it turns out he was born in St. Ann, the same suburb of St. Louis where my grandma lived. He went to Pattonville High School. (He was there a few years too late for me to play Six Degrees of High School Separation, every St. Louisian’s favorite game.)
Godspeed, Robert Behnken, astronaut now and forever.