StoryCorps Shorts: Star Bound

Six year old Jerry Morrison is obsessed with outer space—so of course his favorite person to talk to is his uncle Joey Jefferson, a Mission Operations Engineer at NASA. When they get together, their conversations always revolve around one thing.

AIRED: May 13, 2021 | 0:02:45

Joey Jefferson (JJ): Why do you like space so much?

Jerry Morrison (JM): Uh, there's so much sights to see:

nebulas, hot jupiters and supernova remnants.

JJ: Yeah.

JM: They look so beautiful.

JJ: You know how I fell in love with space?

My mom gave me a really cool space shuttle.

You would wind it back, and then...

JM: Oh, I have that!

JJ: You have that?!

So, I remember playing with that all the time,

and I wanted to become a pilot.

I used to fly planes when I was 17 years old.

And then after that, I started commanding spacecraft at NASA.

JM: Have you ever been to space?

JJ: I have not been to space, but it's a dream of mine.

JM: I want to live on another planet.

JJ: Another planet?

JM: Like, what kind of planet would you live on?

JJ: (Sighs)

Of course everybody's going to say Mars, right?

Are you 'gonna say Mars?

JM: No. Kepler-452b.

JJ: Oh, yeah.

So Kepler-452b is your favorite planet.

Do you know what we call those?

JM: Exoplanets...

JJ: And there's, actually, we estimate to be trillions

of galaxies out there.

So there's a lot of stars and a lot of exoplanets

that we got to find.

And so we need people like you to keep doing what you're doing.

And it's one thing to get to this place where you know all

this knowledge, but it's another thing to teach a knowledge.

JM: Yeah.

JJ: So, you were in kindergarten

and you taught the fifth graders, right?

JM: Yeah.

JJ: How did you like that?

JM: It was a big opportunity for me.

I, like, taught all the planets... It was awesome.

JJ: (Laughs) How do you feel when we visit each other

and we get to talk about space?

JM: It feels good.

I learned from you a lot, like more than I could imagine.

JJ: You're my favorite person to talk about space to.

You know that?

JM: Yeah.

JJ: And you're learning so much by yourself too,

that you're teaching me as well.

JM: Ha-ha...!

JJ: And that's really cool.

The more you learn, the more we realize the little things

in life we take for granted are the very things

that make life possible.

So when I look up in the stars, I think about that.

JM: That is pretty cool.

JJ: My hope is that you are always going to be doing

and learning about the things that you love the most.

You can do whatever you want...but in the future,

I think you're going to go to Kepler 452b.