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ASTRONAUT = A person who travels beyond Earth’s atmosphere;
a trainee for spaceflight. (MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S)

DATING/DATE = An appointment to meet at a specified time; a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character. (MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S)

ASTRONAUT DATING = Two people who travel beyond a familiar atmosphere into the realm of the unknown for romantic reasons; a romantic mission.

Astronauts receive training for rapid transitions. They can go from complete boredom to having to perform at maximum capacity in a matter of moments…

We wouldn’t want to send you out into space without training, right? But think about it. Is that how you approach your potential love relationships? Without training and without awareness of your own strengths (and weaknesses) – you’re basically flying blind into the outer space of love, hoping to land on a planet, or a moon. Therefore, space travel is not for the faint of heart, and neither is love.

For some, dating can be like strolling up to a complete stranger and saying: “So, you want to fly to the moon with me?” Not only have you left the entire purpose, premise and intent out of the question, your mission isn’t really helped by its own variables, either: “No, I really have no idea how we’ll get there, but I’ve heard it’s just a fabulous adventure, and everyone else is doing it, so why not? Let’s give it a try!”

Some may also be over-inspired, putting off potential partners with an untrusted enthusiasm for the adventure. That special someone may not understand anything about the mission, such as what the atmosphere on the new planet is like, or whether the air is even breathable.

Just like no space mission is a guaranteed success, no relationship is guaranteed to succeed, either. For manned space missions, each crew member has been specially trained to carry out a specific role – and trained is the key word, here – but who knows what will happen after the launch? The best possible outcome is that everyone performs their roles to perfection, responding rapidly and correctly to each scenario as it arises.

Factor in the increasingly expanding and complicated world of Internet dating and social media – where connections can occur  as fast as the speed of light – and it becomes apparent that each crew member MUST understand what the mission actually is…


And this is exactly why most missions of love fail – all hype and no prep. Most of the failed connections I’ve dealt with fall into this huge, strange category. My goal is to prepare you for the mission.

Retired NASA Flight Director Eugene Francis “Gene” Krantz directed the successful Mission Control team efforts to save the crew of Apollo 13. A favorite figure in the history of U.S. manned space exploration, Krantz was also a personal friend of the American astronauts of his time. Some could even argue that, no one – not even the astronauts themselves – were as invested in their safe return to Earth as he was.

To give you an idea of how–even with all the best prep work, training and support–things can easily go all wrong, the following is Krantz’s famous countdown to launch the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. Krantz: “Apollo 13 Flight Controllers, listen up! Give me a go/no-go for launch… “Booster!” – “Go!”  “RETRO!”  (Retrofire Officer) – “ Go!” “FIDO!” (Flight Dynamics Officer) – “We’re go, Flight!” “Guidance!” – “Guidance go!” “Surgeon!” – “Go, Flight.” “EECOM!” (Command Service Module Electrical and Environmental Engineer) – “We’re go, Flight!” “GNC!” (Guidance, Navigation & Control) – “We’re go!” “TELMU!” (Telemetry) – “Go!” Control!” (EECOM’s counterpart for Lunar Module systems) – “Go, Flight!” Procedures! – “Go!” “INCO!” (Instrumentation and Communications Officer) –“ Go!” “FAO!” (Flight Activities Officer) – “We are go!” “Network!” – “Go!” “Recovery!” – “Go!” “CAPCOM!” (Capsule Communicator) – “We’re go, Flight!” Krantz: “Launch Control, this is Houston. We are go for launch!”

Alas, the astronauts of Apollo 13 never made it to the moon, but because they made it back to Earth alive, that mission was called a “successful failure.” Going to the moon failed despite all the best minds in the country fighting for it every step of the way. There were just too many unforeseen variables in that mission.

But it doesn’t have to be this way in your relationships. You can always become a better Flight Director.

Of HEARTS & MINDS is a sporadic blog about love.

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