Thursday, June 16, 2016

Father's Day 2016 - Changes in a context of 'the eternal us'

Travels with Juan these years take place on the road, in the air, in our minds and hearts, and in our bodies. It's all a journey, right?

Here we are, transitioning from our early to our mid-70s. We love where we are in life. But there's no denying that however we look at it, the journey ahead will be shorter than the one we've already taken.

Retirement is not what we thought it might be mostly I suppose because we are both still working!

For one, Juan is now the Chief Scientist of Deep Space Industries.

And since that was an unexpected development and a whole journey in itself, I want to record some of its features and challenges here.

Background: Juan in his persona as Dr John S Lewis, Planetary Scientist at MIT and then the University of Arizona, wrote a book called Rain of Iron and Ice, and then another, Mining the Sky. These were published originally in the late 80s. They were received with great interest, mostly in the category of 'great idea - if only...'

Then, twenty years later and not long ago, entrepreneurs and space aficionados put their heads together and created companies around the ideas he was proposing, including the promise of vast wealth from mining asteroids.

One of those companies, Deep Space Industries, hired him on as Chief Scientist.

Since then he has been busy at work helping bring his mid-life ideas into reality.

One major passion of his is to make space activities more affordable by providing propellants for space-faring from space materials. That means not lifting them from Earth, which costs about $5000 a pound - for example $5000 to lift a pint of water.

Instead, water would be brought downhill from asteroids and dead comets to Earth orbit. Down is easier than up! And water makes the best propellants.

The whole story is fascinating and I recommend the books as a starting point. They are written for interested non-scientists, and are just about as up-to-date now as when they were written.

You can also check out his blog at

So retirement is not as we expected. We'd thought about travel, and feeding ourselves from our garden, and we can do that. And Juan always expected to write science fiction and he's doing that as I write this.

He also picks raspberries endlessly.

This Father's Day we celebrate good health and good times together and the exhilaration of being able to work at what we love: space, science, writing, the garden - and family here and there and yon. We're grateful we've been able to keep doing what we love, however long it may be.