Bringing Mars Down to Earth

On that day the four of us stood around the bosses desk and watched the two rockets touch back down on the earth‘ surface as if it was a scene from an old science fiction movie. We went on to discuss the possibilities this would open; The amount of money that would be saved by the reuse of manned rockets. How it would clear a lot of paths in the jungle of space travel. FalconX stirred our imagination.

Suddenly the idea of regular people in space didn’t seem so far in the unreachable future anymore. Maybe it was seeing the Tesla floating in space that enhanced this feeling. Even though it looked more like a well-staged advertising gimmick than anything else to me. After all, the vehicle might as well have been mounted in some studio.

I asked myself what it is to us? With ‚us‘ I mean the regular folks, working 9 to 5 (or to 6, if you are in Israel) to cover the mortgage payment and get the kids through college. Will we see the days when people are traveling to Mars like they do these days to China or California? Will we visit our grandchildren in their homes in some space station? It doesn’t seem likely, so I really don’t care whether the Tesla is actually in space or not.

On the other hand, I may be in for a surprise in my lifetime. Changes don’t follow a linear path. They occur in a combination of sudden breakthroughs, periodic setbacks, and long slow growths being pushed constantly by people with great visions. Enough of them are investing their energies into exploring possibilities to actually make things happen.

Like the six Israeli „Ramonauts“, who recently finished their four day Mars habitat simulation mission in the Negev desert. The D-MARS (Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station) is located in the Ramon Crater, a geologically unique location, bearing similarities to the Mars surface. The researchers spend their days much like they would in a research facility on Mars. Their mission was to test equipment for everyday routines, as well as carry out scientific experiments.

Apparently, there are similar stations in various deserts in the world, operated by the space agencies of different countries. In all of them, scientists are working towards establishing space stations on distant planets. Israels four day simulation mission was the first of its kind. The analog Astronauts in the D-MARS facility – due to the location also called „Ramonauts“ – worked in cooperation with a team from the Austrian Space Forum, whose simulation habitat is located in the desert of Oman. These stations are currently intended for research. However, knowing humankind, we will take over anything we can and eventually make ourselves at home.

I thought that was pretty exciting. Not that it has any influence on my 9 to 6 routine or anything else in my life. But I find it is somewhat contagious to dream up the future and envision what might be possible. And it is great that people act upon their visions, even if they are as far out as that Tesla floating towards Mars.

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American Heroes

It’s not that there are no true heroes anymore. The thing is, we don’t pay attention to them till they’re dead. Maybe if we did, our children would have ideals besides beauty, success, money and otherwise impressing people. Oh, there is nothing wrong with these. But they are just not enough.

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Paralell Universes

My office is not directly in Bnei Brak, but on the border to Ramat Gan, one of the more affluent areas north of Tel Aviv. Where these two merge is where I move around. The area is somewhat surrealistic.

Jabotinsky Street, the place I get off the bus and find myself in a forest of donation boxes (see previous post) is loud, crowded and dirty. There must be about 50 different bus lines going along this route, which leads out of Tel Aviv into the towns on the north-eastern side of the city. The street is aligned with shops, mainly outlets and stock sales, bakeries or coffee shops. One of the street lanes is ripped open. They are putting down the infrastructure for a light train. Huge construction equipment is moving around behind long fences of sheet metal, contribution to the noise. There are people everywhere and unfortunately their garbage piles up in several locations on the side of the pavement.

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Differences

Bnei Brak is a different story. O.k. let me rephrase that: it is yet another cultural experience in Israel.

The way it looks here is different from any other place I have come to know in Israel. The amazing thing is that considering the size of this tiny country you would expect it to look pretty much the same everywhere. I am not talking about the landscape or the view, but the urban character. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are worlds apart, yet less than an hours drive separates them. The towns in the northern part have their own flair and so do the ones in the desert areas. Eilat is a story in its own. And now I am discovering that there is still more.

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Schwarz-Weiß

In den 80er Jahren war sein Name in aller Munde. Er wurde als Freiheitskämpfer gepriesen und als Menschenrechtsverteidiger gelobt. Der Westen nutzte seine Geschichte im Armdrücken der Supermächte, im Duell zwischen dem amerikanischen Kapitalismus und dem sowjetischen Kommunismus. Jeder, der gegen das eine war musste zwangsläufig für das andere sein. Oder nicht?

Als geschichtsbewusste Berliner war uns die Glienicker Brücke wohlbekannt. Mein Vater hatte uns schon als Kinder zu dem Ort gebracht, an dem Spione ausgetauscht werden. Ich fand es aufregend. Mit großen Erwartungen sah der Westen dem Tag entgegen, an dem ein Regime-Gegner, nicht ein Geheimdienstagent über diese Brücke in die Arme der westlichen Freiheit laufen würde. Es war ein Triumph über den Osten.

Ich kann mich nicht erinnern, dass es jemand für erwähnenswert gehalten hatte, dass er Jude ist. Das lernte ich erst, als der Name Scharanski in der israelischen Politik auftauchte. Hey, ist das nicht der von der Brücke? Der, den alle bejubelt hatten und für dessen Freilassung die USA so hart gekämpft hatte? Was macht denn der hier? (Er machte im selben Jahr wie ich Alija).

Ich denke, es war dem Aktivisten immer wichtiger wofür er stand und nicht wogegen. Deshalb schloss er sich natürlicherweise seinen Leuten in ihrem eigenen Land an, nicht den Amis. Schwarz-Weiß-Denken liegt Natan Scharanski nicht.

Natan Scharanski macht keine Schlagzeilen. Aus der israelischen Politik hat er sich zurückgezogen, nachdem er es geschafft hatte den russischen Einwanderern Hoffnung zu geben und Einfluss zu erkämpfen. Allerdings bezieht er wichtige Positionen; Und er hat immer viel Wahres zu sagen. Vor Kurzem lass ich zum Beispiel ein Interview, in dem er unter anderem über Europa und die Flüchtlingssituation spricht. Diesen Artikel möchte ich gern mit Euch teilen: Zum Interview 

Interview

Noch eine Anmerkung: Vor Jahren fragte ich einmal einen Bekannten, der seit Ewigkeiten im Auswertigen Amt tätig ist und so gut wie alle Minister persönlich kannte, ob es dort überhaupt noch vertrauenswürdige Politiker gäbe. Er dachte lange nach und sagte dann: „Die gab es mal. Der Einzige, der noch wirklich Integrität hat, ist Natan Scharanski.“