NASA may have just recruited one of its future astronauts after delighting 7-year-old Dexter with a response to his letter asking how he can visit Mars someday.
Dexter's mother posted images of his letter and NASA's response, complete with pictures of the Curiosity Rover and other resources. She also shared the story on Reddit.
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More than 1,700 comments later, Dexter's letter has gone viral online with many lauding NASA for helping Dexter keep his dreams alive.
This is what Dexter wrote:
My name is Dexter. I heard that you are sending two people to mars and I would like to come but I'm 7.50 I can't. I would like to come in the future. What do I need to do to become an astronaut?
In response, NASA sent a letter telling Dexter to "keep reaching for the stars!" along with links to learn about becoming an astronaut. The organization also posted on its Twitter feed about answering questions.
We try to answer as many Q's as possible on social media. For those who prefer postal mail, we respond there, too http://t.co/VfF96iJv53
— NASA (@NASA) July 8, 2013
One person who commented on the Reddit thread claimed to be a NASA employee and said the public outreach department often pins children's letters to their desks.
"This sort of thing means the world to children and keeps their imagination and faith in the industry alive," Dexter's mother wrote in a reply thanking NASA.
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NASA regularly replies to letters from inquisitive kids. An editor at the British blog urban75 posted photographs this fall of artifacts received in response to a letter sent to NASA in 1969.
In 2011, 10-year-old Christopher Allan from Britain also received a letter and a package of resources when he asked for help with his school project about space shuttles.