Two weeks ago, 7-year-old Dexter Walters wrote a letter to NASA saying he'd like to be considered a candidate for a one-way trip to Mars. "I heard that you are sending two people to Mars and I would like to come, but I'm 7, so I can't," the letter read. "I would like to come in the future. What do I need to do to become an astronaut?"
The boy, who lives in the United Kingdom with his mother, Katrina Anderson, hadn't expected a response. But this morning, Dexter met the mailman at the postbox, and amid letters addressed to his mom, he found a thick one with his name on it. It was from NASA.
"I ran into the room and said 'Its for me! Its for me,'" Dexter told Fast Company. "I was thinking this is incredible because I've waited all my life to do this." The letter thanked the would-be astronaut for writing, saying, "Just think--in a few years, you could be one of the pioneers that may help lead the world's activities for better understanding our earth and for exploring space." The letter also included pictures of the Red Planet and the Curiosity Rover, along with resources Dexter could use to learn more about space.
Anderson was so thrilled by the letter, she posted it to Reddit, where it currently sits in the homepage's number two slot, with more than 1,600 comments. One commenter even said they work at NASA HQ:
"I work at NASA HQ in DC and whenever I visit the Public Outreach people, they have scans of these letters pinned to their cubicles. NASA eats this stuff up because it reinforces the idea they they are doing good work. I hope Dexter follows the dream and he gets to go where so few have … If I see Dexter's letter on anyone's desk, I'll pass along the message."
Anderson said she and Dexter originally found out about NASA's mission to Mars through Reddit. "He read it with me. We sat and discussed whether a one-way trip to Mars would be a good idea, and he said he would definitely want to go."
Anderson, naturally, isn't so sure. "As much as you don't want to be selfish, you still have the reservations obviously about your child doing something like that," she said. Dexter has a love for all things science, and Anderson said she suspects he'll study space exploration. "So I think in the future I will lose him to an American university. But that's not the end of the Earth," she said. "It's not Mars, is it?"
[Poster Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech | MSSS]