FOREWORD TO FUTURE RISING
by Cady Coleman, retired NASA astronaut
My world collided with Andrew’s when we were asked to join forces to host a podcast for the Interplanetary Initiative at Arizona State University. Both of us seem to share an excitement about the possibilities that exist at a place like ASU, where reimagining the future and making education accessible are the first steps to engaging students and helping them find their paths in the world.
While recording interviews for the podcast, I was struck by how illuminating his questions were, bringing perspectives from science fiction to physics to philosophy. Those perspectives permeate Future Rising.
The structure of this book is one of its delights. Through these short but always engaging chapters, Andrew creates a path for us to follow—and it is a trip worth taking: from light to movement, from imagination to curiosity, from possibility to hope. Each chapter reveals a new way to think about the possibilities in the world around us.
Andrew opens his book with the famous Earthrise photo, taken in 1968, an image that had a profound impact on my generation. As an astronaut who has flown in space twice on the shuttle and lived on the International Space Station, I was privileged to see our Earth from space every day for almost six months. That perspective is startling.
The Earth from space does not look fragile—the rock itself will survive long after we do. But there is a sense of our vulnerability, made palpable on my mission when we viewed the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami in Japan, only days after working with Japanese colleagues on the ground to berth their supply ship to the space station. It was comforting for us as a crew to be able to gather data about the flooding to send back to Earth. We also folded origami white cranes and sent videos of them floating in space, which played on billboards during the rebuilding to represent hope for the Japanese people.
From that vantage point, it is also clear that all of us come from one place. One planet. One home. We are the crew of Spaceship Earth and it falls on us to find a way to continue to thrive on our precious and beautiful planet. From space, it is clear that there are no borders, and nothing to stop us from being the best of collaborators, to form the best teams, to collectively bring our imaginations to bear to solve the critical problems of our times.
Imagination, as it should, underpins everything in Future Rising. Coupled with a sense of hope and possibility, it’s what took us to space in the first place, and it is a key tool in solving the problems we face. Every section in his book gives us a different lens through which to see ourselves and others, and to explore the past, the present and what the future might hold.
To paraphrase Andrew’s introduction, reading Future Rising really does help us “hit the metaphorical reset button to think afresh about the future.” The most resounding feeling I’m left with after reading this book is hope, because in every section, Andrew shines a light and shows a path toward a future that could be ours.
Cady Coleman, retired NASA astronaut