The Old Astronaut


© A Mixed Bag 2012

I finally made it. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I always wanted to see all these exhibits. I spent my childhood, my whole life really, admiring astronauts and their accomplishments. I used to spend hours pretending I was wearing a spacesuit, just like the one I’m standing in front of now.

It doesn’t look as impressive in real life, but then, it’s just an empty suit. What makes spacesuits heroic are the men and women who’ve worn them, who were blasted into space, who walked on the Moon. I was in high school when Neil Armstrong wore this suit and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I wish I could have had my shot at even sub-orbital space. I can afford a tourist’s ride on SpaceX now, but I’m too old.

My grandson’s not, though. Next month he and five other astronauts will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station, and from there, they’ll board the Ares One spaceship to Mars. I’ve got my shot into space because my grandson will always be in my heart. Thank you, boy.

I’m writing this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction – March 12th 2017 hosted by Al Forbes. The idea is for authors to use the photo prompt above to write a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words. My story is exactly 200 words long.

Oh, I really did grow up with the NASA manned space missions, from Mercury, to Gemini, to Apollo, and beyond. I even got a chance to see and touch (I wasn’t supposed to touch it) one of the Apollo command modules once, although I’ve never been to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum (I wish). I’ll never go into space, but my grandchildren’s generation will. To the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

To read other tales based on the photo, go to


11 thoughts on “The Old Astronaut

  1. Good stuff, I recently found a space gem not far from where I live. It’s it Wapakaneta OH , Neil Armstrong space museum. A small-town boy makes it big. They have one of his spacesuits among other paraphernalia. I enjoyed your post have a great week.


  2. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is one place I have been to in America! I dragged my wife round it on our honeymoon! She enjoyed it too, so the marriage survived. An amazing place and definitely worth the visit, it does make you admire the pioneers and make you feel like a kid, and make you dream of following them to the stars. Nice story.


  3. I think that will be me when I have grandchildren. Although the way my kids are behaving, that will be never. My kids are nearly 19 and 21 and my son is more interested in creating music and creating video games, and my daughter is more interested in playing The Sims (plus she’s my full time carer now as well). I always wanted to go into space even up to when I reached 45. I have a VR headset with my Galaxy S7 and some of the space things on that make you feel like you are there.

    By the way – this is a great story.


    • Thanks. I know you can only raise kids, you can’t predict what decisions they’ll make. I have three kids and only one of them got married and had kids of his own. Of course, he got divorced and after a failed relationship with another woman, he’s on the cusp of reorganizing his life, hopefully for the better. My other son is finishing his Engineering degree this spring, and my daughter is focused on her career as a sommelier.

      It’s possible I’ll only get the two grandchildren I have or if any more are born, I’ll be quite a bit older when they arrive. Nevertheless, they are a great source of joy for me. Yesterday, I got to take my grandson to his Cub Scouts pinewood derby car race. He won first place in his pace and third overall. This was his first time competing, and he had to depend on his Grandpa’s dodgy carpentry skills and misaligned wheels (pulled to the left). I didn’t think he’d win but of course, I’m so happy for him that he did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds like it was epic. I would have loved that.

        At least your daughter can suggest the best wines for you 🙂

        Heh sounds like me. Married, failed relationship and now starting to reorganise life. Although maybe not the organisation so much lol

        Liked by 1 person

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