Seven-year-old Dexter Walters sent a letter to NASA two weeks ago, not knowing if he’ll ever get a response, asking the space exploration agency to consider him as a candidate for becoming one of the first astronauts to set foot on Mars. Like all adults should, a NASA personnel responded with an encouraging message.
Before we get to NASA’s response, here’s Dexter’s original letter: [sic]
my name is Dexter I heard that you are one sending 2 peaple to mars and I would lik to come but im 7. So I can’t. I would Like to come in the Future. What do I need to do to become an astreunaut?
Knowing that he’s neither old enough nor have sufficient training, Dexter asked NASA what he should do to become an astronaut. NASA’s response encouraged Dexter to explore first through resources that are available to him here on Earth (albeit in an indirect way).
When I was in 6th grade (1976),I wrote NASA for a class project. All the other students wrote to different places and got reply’s within 2 weeks. I sat disappointed for over a month and figured NASA didn’t care. I was the only one who didn’t receive a reply. Then one day when I got to school, my teacher said I had to go to the office because the Principal wanted to see me. All the way down the hall, my 11 year mind was going over things I might have done. By the time I got to the Principal’s office I was trembling with fear.As I sat waiting in the outer office for the bomb to drop, I noticed two huge boxes. The Principal came out with his usual stern face and asked If Could get my boxes out of there. A smile came across his face as he pointed to them. My mind finally got my eyes to focus on the boxes. They were clearly marked NASA and addressed to me. He helped me get a hand cart and wrestle them onto it. We wheeled them back to the class and stopped the lesson that was in progress, and the whole class and I spent the next Hour or so, even missing our first recess going through the pile of pictures, maps, posters, ect. that they sent. There were enough things for everyone in the class and more. I was a king of the school for the whole week. Those two boxes started an interest in NASA that has lasted to this day! I hope your son does make it to Mars. Live long and prosper!!
What’s next for Dexter? Well, he’ll have to stay focus on his dream, but at the same time continue to be a kid and do what kids do. His mother says that she’ll lose her son to some American university eventually, but at least these institutions are on Earth and not Mars.