We Sci Fi writers get our inspiration from many places. Staring up at the Milky Way, tinkering with gadgets, and the great science fiction writers who have blazed the trail in the sky before us. Heinlein and Bradbury, Clarke and Verne. But most of all we get our inspiration from real science. And for me, I get my inspiration from real spaceflight. And from my father.
On Friday night, September 6, 2013, the LADEE spacecraft lifted off from Wallops Island, Virginia, headed for the moon. I’d like to say the whole world watched, but that would not be true. However, the launch was visible over much of the eastern seaboard, and on the internet. LADEE is an unmanned probe headed for lunar orbit, where it will measure the moon’s atmosphere. For more info see: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ladee/
For those of you who think the moon has no atmosphere, you would be in good company, including my 6th grade science teacher, who gave me a D when I wrote an essay on the subject. But my science teacher was wrong–the moon does have an atmosphere, thin to be sure, but it’s there. I know this because my father, Dr. R. Richard Hodges, Jr., has been researching the subject for most of his life. He had instruments orbiting the moon on Apollo 15 and 16, and one that is still on the lunar surface from Apollo 17.
And he recently came out of retirement to help with the instrument package for LADEE. He’s going back to the moon. I’ll never make it there myself, nor will I ever send an instrument there, but I can write. And so I write science fiction. I’ve been to Mars already with “Three-Quarters Martian,” and I’m going back again soon with “Martian Rules.” Next stop, the moon. Or maybe I’ll just write something about fathers.