NASA 50th Anniversary Essay Competition

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As NASA celebrates 50 years of scientific and technological excellence that have powered us into the 21st century, it reflects on signature accomplishments that are enduring icons of human achievement. Among those accomplishments are technological innovations and scientific discoveries that have improved and shaped our lives on Earth in a myriad of ways. In looking forward to a promising new era of inspiration, innovation, and discovery, the second topic in the 50th Anniversary Essay Contest required students to imagine how their everyday lives will have changed because of NASA aerospace technology years into the future.

Second Prize: $2,500 college scholarship

Grace Nowadly, 7th Grade, Berkeley Middle School in Williamsburg, Virginia

Teacher: Ms. Kathy Poe

Describe how, 50 years from now, your everyday life may benefit from NASA’s future aerospace technology.

“Hurry up, Grace! You’re going to miss it!”

“Be there in a minute!” I called back to my husband. I grew more impatient by the second as, one by one, my popcorn kernels began to pop. The microwave finally started to beep and I grabbed the popcorn and gave it to my granddaughter who ran back to the room in which the rest of her family was sitting. I slowly walked back and sat down just in time to see a hazy image of a spacecraft slowly moving towards a small, red planet.

“I never thought I’d live to see the day when astronauts landed on Mars. My mother used to tell me about her whole family watching the landing on the moon, and now my whole family is watching the landing on Mars! Just think about how far we’ve come. First the moon, now Mars! What’s next?” I said out loud as my grandchildren watched the screen, only half listening.

Hmm…What is next? I thought to myself. I looked over at my son. He was an air traffic controller at a local airport. Oh yeah! He told me that NASA was going to set up a new program that makes air traffic control easier. I turned back to the television and watched the ship come closer and closer to the tiny planet. I was watching the television, but I was doing lots of thinking.

I also heard on the news somewhere that NASA will launch a satellite that can track the spreading of diseases, I thought to myself. That could help doctors and scientists to control pandemics. If they knew where diseases were rapidly spreading, they could evacuate healthy people from the area, help the infected people, and keep people from coming in the area.

I looked around the room and saw my three grandchildren sitting around the television in big bean bag chairs. Will NASA try to help them somehow? I remembered when I brought them to the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. They looked at every brochure of educational programs available to them. There were camps, classes, and other programs that all focused on NASA and space exploration.

I looked at the television and heard rejoicing through out the room as the spacecraft landed on the smoky, red, surface of Mars. The kids jumped up and down and ran around the house. Everyone was happy and watched eagerly for the astronauts’ next move. As they slowly stepped out of the tiny door onto a planet never visited by man, I couldn’t help but think, Well, NASA will keep making everyday life better, one step at a time.


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