A computer technician has skipped the cardboard boxes and built his toddler an incredible simulation of the cockpit of a spacecraft.
Michelle StarrScience editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
When it comes to make-believe, kids are pretty canny -- a simple refrigerator box can fly them to the moon. But inspired by physicists and educators Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan, one dad has gone above and beyond in getting his son into space.
Before Noah was born, Daniel Sherrouse was already planning the spaceship simulator he would build to instill in Noah a love of the stars. "When my wife told me she was pregnant, I slammed my fist down on the table and said 'Gosh darn it, my kid is going to have a better life than me!'"
He started with a 5x8-foot enclosed trailer to make the cockpit, then set about decking it with dashboards, controls, HUDs, and equipment -- mostly secondhand gear donated by friends and family. Most of the buttons, switches, and dials don't really do anything, but one of the screens can be used to play Pioneer Space Simulator (with the option to play more complex games as little Noah gets older), operated with a keyboard, mouse, and USB number pad. The other screen shows a system startup video created by Sherrouse, and a radar screensaver.
The whole thing tops off with a stellar paint job, making the cockpit look like the sort of aged rust bucket in which a space veteran would feel most at home. The entire thing has taken about 10 months to build, but it's going to be an ongoing project, growing and evolving with Noah.
"I have always been interested in space, and I believe our survival as a species requires us to one day reach the stars," Sherrouse told CNET Australia. "As funding for the sciences and NASA drop further and further, I worry that we are giving up on and betraying that destiny. We must inspire the next generation to reach for the things we have not had the courage to invest in."
So long as there are dads like Sherrouse in the world, we reckon things are going to be all right.