At the age of sixty years I find myself at the start of a new career. Two years ago after a successful lifetime in the American illumination industry my career was on a predictable path. Regularly the most experienced person in the room and with nothing much left to prove my future was happily planned. Nothing wrong with that. I had ambitions of course but I knew more or less where I was going to be standing when I achieved anything new. Then came COVID. Today I manufacture spacecraft.
I'm a rocket man and I run a manufacturing program developing human space environments for Gravitics here in Seattle, Washington USA.
The problem with space today is that suddenly everyone is going there but there is actually nowhere to go when you arrive. We manufacture artificial gravity human living environments. While courting me the Gravitics president informed me that 'within five years he planned to be meeting with me in the new boardroom - which will be located in orbit'. Bond villain style. If I dare I might get to visit space then - and the product I am working on will be the hotel that I stay in. WIlliam Shatner just did it at 90 years old, so I have a window of opportunity yet open to me.
How did that happen? Experience. There is hope for us all then. At sixty years old it seems I have gained a sufficiently broad enough experience of making things in general to be useful in any manufacturing program - especially so fast-track rapid development programs utilising diverse new tech and driven by aggressive billionaires. I wouldn't have been useful to NASA, but to aggressive capital I am a perfect fit.
Born in the 1960s and growing up watching Apollo many of us dreamed of being astronauts. Life regularly frustrates our best intentions. Having ascended to what I thought was the top of the hill it turns out there was an undiscovered country just beyond. (Deliberate space reference for those with eyes to see). I feel renewed. What fun!
Jon Connell (OI 1975-79)
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