Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Voyager II was launched within a few days of my birth. I have felt an affinity to that lonely spacecraft, the farthest man-made object in existence, for many years.

When my family and I first came to Britain in the 1980s I started, as one does, at a new school with new people, speaking a strange language and observing peculiar customs. The very first thing we did after I started in my class was a project on that spaceship. I was hooked; the beautiful pictures of worlds I had never dreamed of; the idea of travelling so far into uncharted territory, and being so utterly alone. And the promise of the future;, discoveries and revelations beyond the wildest fantasy of science fiction.

At that point I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. Well, what boy doesn't? But the chances of being an astrofairy were very slim, not least because we did not go into space then. Nevertheless, my dream persisted and it eventually drew me down the path of science. I eventually began to read physic, moving to Strumpetville almost 15 years ago (15 years, gentle reader: already!!). and studying the stars myself. That time, too, was an exciting time for we began to discover worlds around other stars as well as take a vigorous and new interest in our neighbour worlds too. I was very lucky to be involved in a small way in both, and for a time Voyager was forgotten.

Now Voyager has left near space and for the next 15 years – as long as its systems are expected to keep functioning – it will feedback data on interstellar space; or as near to it as we are likely to get in the near future. And eventually its power cells will die and it will drift ever on until... well, perhaps forever.

That little craft out there has been, in a sense, almost an intrepid representation of my own little life. It was launched when I was born; it passed the last of the worlds it was to survey as my childhood began to end, and it left the Solar System about the time that I came out. I hope my power cells last beyond 2025, of course, but it is amazing to think how much that craft has not only had similar milestones – in a sense - but inspired me to follow my own.

Reading this who would wonder, whether gay or straight, that my obsession with space and science found me single for so long? But still, gentle reader, nothing has been quite so inspiring to me as that tiny piece of our world out there among the stars.

1 comment:

Antony said...

Hi Mike,

I understand how difficult coming to a new country must have been for you. I did it as an adult going to Spain with a different language, culture etc. So I understand the feeling of isolation or being alone.

But you are never alone as the are commonalities that all human beings feel that bind us together and make us the social creatures we are.


A x