Sunday, November 2, 2008

easter island international airport

"The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only
common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal
after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the
cosmos." -- stephen jay gould

Space. The void. A dark confusion, a definite system of spin. The Cosmonaut looks out the porthole of the International Space Station. Into the void. Occupying the lack of...

In space there is a cold, unforgiving lack of anything. A vacuum, a dark indiscernible circumstance, a myriad of constellations, points of light in the long far gone; further than over the river and thru the woods.

The Cosmonaut has logged too many thousands of hours in space: Tiny capsules, Soviet Space Stations: The Salyut series & Mir; real predecessors of the ISS. American Space Shuttle missions, private space ventures, innumerable tests. Trips on the undeployed Soviet Space Shuttle ripoff. A stream of journeys back & forth. Earth & Space. Celebrate Secret Missions: success & failure.

Imagine a fungus in space. Toxic Mold in a tiny Space Station. This limited space with 4 Cosmonauts working on experiments. The first gun in space was on an early Soviet Space Station. Longly precedent to the Chinese battering ram satellite.

Always amid the void, Viktor the Cosmonaut finds whatever it is he uses to define or find himself. The great big nothingness shows an unending litany of discovery & dazzle. The infinite universe provides unabridged possibility & observation; an encyclopedia of thought and being. Events witnessed, recorded & reported are science, clearly. Open books of what's been going on in the great big up there. The heavens way past the left field fence, out beyond the far pond, on the other side. presentation of fact and very little fancy. Accounts balanced in the void.

The Cosmonaut sees Earth from afar. Each time is as beautiful as the last. Mystifying and crisp. Wisps of clouds are entire weather fronts. landmasses are browns and greens with a few silver ribboning stripes. 74 percent of the globe varies shades of blue. Oceans wide & deep in subtle hues. By day a few human creations can be seen from space. Passing over the night side of earth shows all those twinkling electric bulbings below. Cities, suburbs & roads. Parking lots, runways, dog tracks, casinos & amusement parks adding their glim to the glamming night.

The Cosmonaut breaks his gaze and makes his way to choose his stowed meal of the day. He sticks to the choice listed on the calendar on the door to the ISS fridge. His food is more supplemental mixtures than any distinguishable foodstuff with some color differences and odd crispy wafers of varying sweet and savory distinctions to provide a sense of texture. Texture is an issue the Cosmonaut discovered, despite the perfectness of these formulated foods, needed be addressed for long stays in small spaces. One can carry fresh fruit to last only so long in space.

The Cosmonaut heats pseudofood in the table mounted heating device of the Mir-like Russian-built space station module.

He has a spacewalk coming up tomorrow. A journey into the beautiful out there. The beautiful nothingness. A chance to gaze and be lost in the celestial host. A tiny taste of power as one has from any height.

The Cosmonaut eats the perfect food. He spoons it up & occasionally dips some with his wafers. There are probably certain additives in this perfect spacefood to encourage its enjoyment. addictive properties perhaps. It must taste good but not too good lest they run out of spacefood should a spacesick newbie fall to depression binge eating.

As he eats he considers spacewalking activities ahead of him. He must move some small pieces of equipment left on previous spacewalks to more secure locations outside the ISS. He will be joined by an Astronaut who will assist moving a larger piece of equipment with the 55 foot long Canadian robot arm. it can be controlled from both within and without the ISS. The Cosmonaut will discuss certain subtle aspects of extra-vehicular robot arm control with the Astronaut joining him. They will move and secure this experimental equipment to be installed by the next mission with additional components yet to be launched.

The Cosmonaut rises from his meal & floats to prepare his spacesuit. He moves himself in ways that use his muscles most fully to begin his warmup.

He follows the checklists closely to put all the pieces of his spacesuit in order where it sits from the previous day's Extra-vehicular Activity. Seals seal properly. Radio test checks out. Oxygen is operational.

The Cosmonaut has brought his sleeping bag from his sleep station to install in the airlock where he'll sleep the night before his space walk with the Astronaut, Gary.

Gary gathers foodstuffs for morning's meal from the Russian dining module. He checks the list Viktor provided him in pidgin chickenscratch including letters Gary guesses are Cyrillic.

The Astronaut & Cosmonaut meet at the airlock, exchange pleasantries and affix their bedrolls to the Velcro wall for their depressurization campout.

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