“His country needs him,” said the man from NASA.
“But why him?” asked Neal’s mother. “He’s much too young for this,” she said.
“We would normally agree with you,” said the man from NASA, “but this rocket can only carry an astronaut weighing twenty pounds, and the only thing the James Webb telescope needs is for one of its shiny components to be covered in baby drool.”
“So you’re going to send a baby to space? You’re going to send MY baby to space?” asked Neal’s mother.
“That’s up to Neal,” said the man from NASA. The two of them looked at the baby. He drooled and looked back at them. “What do you say, son?” said the man from NASA.
Neal tooted audibly and grinned.
“If that’s not a yes, ma’am, then I’m not an employee of NASA,” said the man from NASA.
They put Neal in a baby-sized space suit, took a picture of him that would go on to be the most-liked Instagram photo of all time, and loaded him into the rocket. Neal slept all through the countdown and launch, and only woke up when the rocket reached space.
NASA watched his progress on the monitors, and fed streams directly to the office of the President of the United States, who watched the proceedings with his heart in his throat. “Godspeed, rocket baby,” he said.
Rocket baby, cooing and wriggling, moved through the dark void of space at 3000 miles per hour. He thought space was great.
His mother, back on earth, did not think space was great. “Neal,” she said, “Oh my rocket baby, be safe.”