Today is Mach 30’s fifth birthday. On this day in 2009, the founding members of the Mach 30 Board received confirmation of Mach 30’s incorporation. Join us over the next three days for a special series of blog posts which tell the tale of how Mach 30 came to be.
There is an element to Mach 30’s story that is really my story. To say that I have been interested in space my entire life is a dramatic understatement. Obsessed is probably closer to the truth. And I really mean my whole life. My earliest memory is sitting on my mother’s lap as a very small child (somewhere around the age of 2) at a drive in movie theater watching the original Star Wars. All I really remember is images of space ships and light sabers, but from that moment on, I was hooked on Star Wars, and by extension space. You can imagine my disappointment as I grew older and came to realize the Millennium Falcon was not real and that we could not visit other planets, let alone other star systems.
Fortunately, around the time I started to understand Star Wars was just fiction, the Space Shuttle program was really getting going (I was about 8 or 9, the Challenger accident had not happened yet), and my parents pointed my obsession in the direction of NASA. For a time I was hooked. I cut out newspaper clippings about shuttle missions and did school reports on NASA probes and the astronauts. And even through the Challenger accident and the gap in US human spaceflight that followed, I stuck with NASA. They were the ones who were supposed to bring us our future in space, and someday take us to Mars.
Somewhere along the line, Mars became the ultimate focus of my obsession with human spaceflight. Like many space exploration enthusiasts, I believe Mars is the obvious destination for the next set of “first footprints” (though I do not believe we should jump straight to a Mars mission). So, it should come as no surprise that I want very badly to go to Mars. And, for a time (junior high school and high school and possibly through part of college) I assumed the best path, the only path to get to Mars, was through NASA and the astronaut core.
I mention this little detail because notes from the earliest days of Mach 30 talk about the mission being to “send J. to Mars.” It was mostly meant in jest, but there is no doubt that my personal motivation for founding Mach 30 is in part from a desire to build the kind of organization that can build a sustainable approach to exploring the solar system and that will ultimately send me to Mars.