Space Milestones, My Dad and the Kelly Twins

photo from space.com, link below
I am fascinated by space and I am a real science fiction
junkie, although I am not the least bit interested in going to space. I
inherited my space obsessions from my Dad who would have been an engineer if he
had not been born into a very poor family made even poorer by the Great
Depression. Although my Dad had to leave school in the eighth grade to support
his family, he became a talented mechanic and electrician. He took a mail order
course and taught himself calculus. He rewired our old family home and his
wiring still holds up to the many new demands of our high tech age. We used to
star gaze occasionally on a balmy summer evening and dream of space. My Dad’s
nickname was Brain.
Alas, I did not inherit my Dad’s innate math intelligence; I
was wired for language, words. I never conquered calculus and even advanced
algebra was a real reach. Words have sufficed to keep me connected to outer
space, however, because most of our space exploration is imaginary at this
point. So I am not space literate – I cannot follow the flights of mathematical
formulae that calculate space mechanics or space trajectories or even those
that map stars, planets, galaxies. When I added an astronomy class in college
the math of exponents turned my language-wired brain into a pretzel.
But there is enough romance and hope in the creative
contemplation of space travel that I can’t ever be truly earthbound again.
Somewhere in the bowels of my blog are two lists of the sci-fi books I have
read, and throughout the past five years in the reading diary I have maintained
on my blog the sci-fi genre is still well represented. But I also like to
follow the real life dramas of humans and our mostly unmanned encounters with
the seemingly unlimited and light-spangled space that surrounds our tiny
planet.
We put astronauts on the moon. (My Dad was alive for that
one.) We put a powerful telescope in orbit and named it Hubble. It has sent us
astounding photos of things so distant and enormous that we, in spite of the
beauty of it all, shiver when we imagine fragile humans loose in that
immensity. We know the asteroids that are near earth and we know their paths.
Last week an asteroid whizzed by very near our planet and the event was barely
mentioned. We, along with Russia, maintain a space station in near earth orbit.
But we have not had manned space expeditions that have gone further than the
moon. We have had two Mars landing “robots” meet and greet each other on the
surface of Mars. That’s a bit spacey, but no human has been able to travel in
space beyond the Moon.
So we take our baby steps towards space exploration while we
wait for a technology that will make such ventures less risky and which will
not be quite so challenging in terms of the time such travel entails. One such
baby step, which I will be keeping an eye on, is beginning on March 17, 2015.
Scott Kelly, American astronaut and Mikhail Kornienko, Russian Cosmonaut will
enter the International Space Station for a year long stay. Russian cosmonauts,
in 1980 – 1990, completed one year stays aboard Mir, so this current mission is
not a “first”.
Scott Kelly will be the first American to stay for one year
in space. Scott Kelly is a twin and his twin brother, Mark Kelly, is also an
astronaut and he will remain on earth. What makes this stay in space especially
interesting is the comparisons that will be made between the effects of space
on Scott’s physiology and psychology, with Mark used as a sort of base line or
scientific control factor here on earth. Perhaps this will put us one step
closer to Mars, or the vast universe. It also means that we are not just
wasting time until space technology catches up to our dreams of space travel.
Link to an article about the Kelly Twins and the year in space
Links to my Science Fiction book lists:
Book- My Favorite Science Fiction Stories from 8/23/2010
Reprise – Science Fiction Book Lists 12/26/2011
By Nancy Brisson

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