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lc3925.08.2022, over the Atlantic with British Airways BA2039

It's still about 3 hours to Orlando. I'm sitting on the plane again, after a break of 2.5 years. The Pandemic and the war have changed the world and our lives as well. After a 6 hour flight over London, flying just started feeling familiar again, as if the time since the pandemic began hadn't existed. Then I opened this pad and those last experiences I typed in here appear on the screen. There's a ticket to India with a stopover in Kiev. Now that airport is in ruins. My last travel report also looks at me warningly, Moscow February 2020.

Like many, I had been deluded into believing that positive influence could be brought to Russia, something like a slow fall of the Berlin Wall. Since the outbreak of the war, I too had to realize that I was wrong. All the signs were there, but I didn't want to believe them.

Now those 20 years of Space Education with Russia are history. Despots and their privileged henchmen are waging a war against their own and neighboring people and are taking our future into for this purpose. My huge list of friends in Russia has also thinned out. Former friends and even students I have grown fond of have allowed themselves to be blinded and in an attempt to explain themselves they themselves have become verbal and tangible perpetrators.

Growing up in what was still the GDR, the memory of it was still there, and after 30 years since the fall of the Wall, I am aware that the old Russia has become taboo for me. The whole country has a long and sacrificial process of coming to terms with the past ahead of it, and I see little hope for a quick solution. Too much aggression, frustration and lies have built up over the last 20 years for that, and the people in power do not count on morality at all. Only the Russian people can change this process for the better and I fear that this will take a very long time.

So, I am grateful for 20 years and countless trips to Russia, great experiences, a great time with our students and friends from space. Above all, they were one thing: unique. And I am gladly willing to resume these relations, to build a more peaceful Russia. But in order to do so, the Russian people must first do their homework, lose their fear of the despots, stand up and completely clean up the time of Stalin and Putin. There is a lot of work to be done.

For a long time, I had admired the stability and reliability of Russian space travel. But now it is apparent that it has become an empty shell, too stiff and too intertwined with the military. Moreover, no real new innovation has been added since Korolyov.

In contrast, NASA's new lunar program has picked up speed. In my estimation, it is precisely NASA's multifaceted orientation, including the promotion of private startups as service providers, that has given it its immense superiority over the Russian systems, which are now hopelessly outdated.

Professor von Puttkamer's words thus resonate loudly when he told me in 2006: "We must put spaceflight on many legs and leave the day-to-day business to private service providers. That's the only way we as NASA can do what we should be doing, exploring space."

So, for 20 years now, Yvonne and I have been working towards just that return to the Moon, getting hundreds of students excited about it, many of whom have now embarked on such a career. After 2 years of pandemic, we are still around and that is something to be proud of.

artemis1

So now I'm back on the plane heading for the USA. The first new moon rocket with the name Artemis 1 is to start. Again, there are several planes from many countries with the same one goal and many young people under our leadership. We will be meeting in the next few days, witnessing history firsthand and also writing it.


I don't quite know today what will be in store for us. But one thing is clear to me, we will make more of it than we had imagined in advance. So, I sit in the Boeing 777 and look out of the window to the left at the Atlantic. As if this was a greeting, the nose of Cape Canaveral, which is particularly familiar to me, slides into the picture. The two launch pads 39 A and B are in front of me, and on pad B, which is closer to me, the most powerful rocket in the world is already stretching up into the sky, tiny but visible.

 
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