Shuttle-Mir Stories

Linenger's Letters to his Son

January 23, 1997
"I am still an Earthling

Dear John:

I decided before this flight that I was going to be a good father and write to you every day. This is my first attempt at that.

I realize that you are only one year old, and although I exaggerate your talents like any proud father would, I don't think that you can quite read this yet. No problem. When you can, you'll feel good knowing that your father loves you.

Space flight is a dangerous business. I used to be pretty cavalier about it. But just before this launch, I started questioning what I was about to do. You see, I have so, so much to lose now. You and your mother.

I always liked adventures. I remember exhausting the elementary school library of mystery books by someone I think was named Orton. Trying to figure out the ending before the ending. Anticipating. Observing the situation, and trying to predict the outcome. Reading about people who were in unusual situations, and studying how they were challenged, and how they responded.

Anyway, that curiosity characteristic is what got me on this space station. Oh sure, I went to lots of schools, did pretty well in our great United States Navy, and went through all the mechanics of the application and interview process. But the basic trait of insatiable curiosity is what drove me through all of that.

Space is a frontier. And I'm out here exploring. For five months! What a privilege!

But, I sure do miss you. Want most of all to see you come stumbling around the corner, bellow out your big laugh when I give my "surprised to see you" look, and watch you stumble back out of the room to do the same to mom in the other room. You are the best son in the world, John.

You know, although I am up here floating above the earth, I am still an earthling. I feel the pain of separation, the pride of a father, and the loneliness of a husband away from his wife like an earthling. And maybe even a bit more acutely.

Good night my son. I will be watching over you.


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