higher than an airplane, closer than the moon

This morning Oliver, Patrick, Gavin and I gathered around the computer display and watched the final shuttle launch. Oliver was a little apprehensive about the noise and smoke as the shuttle took off. Thankfully, everything went smoothly, and Oliver got more and more excited as the Atlantis blasted “FAS!! FAS!!” into the atmosphere.

We explained to Oliver the shuttle was going into space. He looked confused, until we explained the moon and stars, like on the light-up constellation Turtle, is space. Then Gavin said it was actually near-earth-orbit to visit the international space station. How do you explain near-earth-orbit to a two-year-old?!

Our best description was: “higher up than an airplane, but closer than the moon.” That seemed to work. Thankfully, he didn’t have any questions about the space station.

When the streaming video cut back to NASA’s command center in Houston, Oliver was quite disappointed and demanded “moar! moar!”

Sorry Oliver, there won’t be any more shuttle launches, ever.

One thought on “higher than an airplane, closer than the moon

  1. I feel so, so sad. I can see that you offer Oliver far more accurate and scientific explanations about the world than I provide to Sonya. When she became concerned that the “rock-it” had caught on fire, I explained that it was going “up in the sky like a plane.” Then she asked about Mickey Mouse. And I didn’t correct her. Who knows? He might be in the Space Station right now. Cosmonaut Mickey.

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