Friday, July 8, 2011

Mission Control

Today is the scheduled last flight of the space shuttle, depending on the weather. Beautiful here, so I send good weather wishes along with my safe travel wishes to the astronauts and NASA.

It's also a Random Coinciday in the blog, a day to pre-order Sex on the Moon, by Ben Mezrich, from Amazon. Ben Mezrich is the guy who wrote The Accidental Billionaires, on which the movie The Social Network is based.

Hmm, maybe I should accidentally read that!

Meanwhile, the Yiddish Policemen have landed at my house, for free, thanks to Amazon Prime, which I announce to my book group gals whose books I ordered.

Sex on the Moon might be a little about sex on the moon, but it's mainly about stealing moon rocks and going to prison for it.

NPR was covering the last space shuttle flight as I drove to and from lap swimming, and one fellow spoke about what we had hoped to learn from our space program, which he summed up as rather little. Then he spoke about what we might do next, mentioning space tourism, etc. Later, another guy, speaking of safety and rescue issues, explained that only 4 astronauts are going as only 4 can be safely brought back to earth after maybe hanging out at the space station for a while.

All this 1) reminded me of the science fiction I have been reading lately, and in my youth 2) made me urgently sad all over again about the Challenger and other losses 3) gave me a lingering poignant feeling about the space program and its purposes.

I recall the competitive aspect, to compete with Russia and Sputnik, and the military knowledge aspect, and the business aspect (jobs, money). But I also recall the awe, the desire for knowledge for what's out there! And how the science fiction of my youth truly captured that! I still want to know what's out there.

In random coincidii mode:

"Sputnik is up there, I think--", a poem by Richard Fox at Escape Into Life

"The Rocket Man" by Ray Bradbury, in The Illustrated Man

Background music: "Rocket Man" by Elton John and "Space Oddity" by David Bowie

Sometimes I swim in a lane by the pipe surging water into the pool, so when I am doing breast stroke toward the wall, I am suspended, going nowhere, till I break through that artificial current.

I feel like a rocket man, lost in space....


Hannah Stephenson said...

Elmo was tweeting (via Sesame Street's Twitter account--they are one of my favorites!) about the shuttle launch. Tugged at the heartstrings.

Happy weekending!

Kathleen said...

I heard Elmo on the radio, too!

risaden said...

My thought this morning was how, statistically, these space incursions have had an awfully high mortality, if compared with other forms of travel. Morbid me. As usual.

Kathleen said...

You're good at morbid, Risa! Hey, Iodine arrived with the Yiddish Policemen!

Julie Kistler said...

I *so* remember 1969 and the moon landing and going downstairs to the basement (we had a "rec room" down there) on Sunday night to watch it live while the rest of my family stayed upstairs, not all that interested. I also remember Apollo 1 and the Challenger, which were both so devastating. I think, especially as children, we pinned so much on the idea of flying to the moon. It's the idea of what is possible and how far your hopes and dreams can fly.

Collagemama said...

In a Random Coinciday moment, I opened "Big Thirst" today to the chapter about water on the moon being discovered by NASA equipment transported by Chandrayaan-1, India's first moon mission. The scientists and engineers who created the moon rocket don't even have basic 24/7 clean water here on Earth.

I grew up with NASA and Neil Armstrong, and I love that push into space. I had a crush on a Mars rover. I'd like to see the scientists and engineers dealing with manned missions here on Earth and sending unmanned probes into space.

Adding some interesting links:

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Collagemama on the Moon!

Lorel said...

A lovely piece, Kathyleen. It's been a long time since I let myself feel awe over the space program - or, rather I should say the thrill of witnessing the accomplishments of Man. Thanks for awakening the true wonder of it.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Lorel.

I like your way of seeing, too--that thrill of witness!