Hurray! We have got a Boarding Pass to Mars!

“The UAE is going on a mission to Mars,” she announced, “so shall we go, too?”



by

Ambica Sachin

Published: Wed 10 Feb 2021, 11:40 PM

The excitement was palpable as the Year One class teacher asked the 30 odd 5-year-olds if they wanted to go to Mars during the Science lesson on Tuesday. The e-learning sessions for the day were going on and with the birds chirping and a gentle breeze making its way into the house, the atmosphere was ripe to play hooky. And then the call to attention: “The UAE is going on a mission to Mars,” she announced, “so shall we go, too?”

And just like that the mood changed. Kids scrambled around to open the link she had sent across on the Chat Box. “What should I put as my Post Box Number?,” chimed one excitedly, but all that was required right now to be eligible for the future space travel was a bona fide email id to which no doubt in the years to come we will be peddled everything from tickets to space museums across the world to inter-planetary themed birthday decorations.

Parents were badgered to share their prized account details and everyone waited with bated breath after the relevant information was keyed in and boom, the boarding pass was issued with the Nasa logo emblazoned on it. Title: Future Mars Mission. Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Earth. Arrival Site: Jezero Crater, Mars. Scheduled Departure: July 2026.

“Miss Steffina, is this just pretend or are we going for real,” a little voice could be heard asking earnestly in the midst of it all. But the overriding sentiment was one of exhilaration and even when the lessons moved on to other subjects the ‘class trip to Mars’ remained in everyone’s mind.

At night when I was glued to the screen watching with bated breath as the countdown began, I didn’t have the heart to tell the 5-year-old that it was way past his bedtime. It was a historic mission and one that an entire nation was invested in. And we kept our fingers crossed and wished good luck as the Hope probe made its slow and steady successful insertion Into the Mars obit and it was jubilation all over.

Great leaders do not merely point to a hazy goal in the distant future and expect people to plod on but inspire an entire generation to journey ahead on the wings of imagination and faith. We may not fully grasp the intricacies of what we are working towards right now, but it’s enough that we believe that achieving a collective goal is as significant as any personal milestones we may have set ourselves.

On Tuesday night as the UAE went to sleep with a deep sense of accomplishment, there was gratitude for the visionary leadership we have been blessed with; the ones who believe that investing in the future is imperative, even as we soldier on through testing times. And you have to admit there’s never been a better time to explore the infinite space above our head what with Jeff Bezos breathing down Elon Musk’s neck in their race to space.

Also a shout out to one special teacher who was able to fire the imagination of a little boy who now solemnly believes he will travel to the Red Planet one day. “Ratchet, good job. Mission Accomplished! I’m coming to Mars soon,” I heard him exulting to his Transformer counterpart in another universe as he scooted off to bed. — ambica@khaleejtimes.com


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