I was in Australia a little over two years ago presenting a systems engineering paper at an INCOSE conference. It took so long (over a day) to get there by air so I took advantage of being down under and stayed a few extra days. One day I wanted to get outside of the main part of Adelaide to visit a brewery so I took an Uber. I hopped in the car and the driver started chatting with me and eventually he asked me why I was here and what my profession was. When he found out what I did for a living he lit up and starting sharing his experience with the space agency. Back in the late 60’s my Uber driver was a chef and he was hired to cook for a very important picnic, a celebration picnic for the crew of Apollo 11. He got to meet all three of the crew (Neil, Buzz and Mike) and of course he had pictures. When we got the my destination we sat in the car for a while and exchanged stories. I told him about my personal connection with Buzz Aldrin and we just couldn’t believe that two people who live literally on opposite sides of the planet both had a connection with Buzz Aldrin. Not only a connection, but we had an experience with him that was directly related to his steps on the Moon.
People always ask me what its like working where I do and honestly its pretty darn cool. But it doesn’t compare to A random meeting like this one where you get to see first hand just how profound an impact space exploration can make on people on a personal level.