Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Launch:

They are loaded into a spacebus with nice lines strapped onto one of the largest things that moves; oh, most certainly the largest thing that flies. And oh how it flings these things with rocket boosters. And all of this rests on the biggest thing that moves on land: The shuttle crawler. The moving platform with multistory tanktracks and a maximum speed of not even a handful of miles per hour. Whereas the shuttle ends up being the fastest thing made by man. Ever. And there’s somebody inside.

Astronauts wear pressurized suits primarily for comfort in exit and entry. The comfort of survival. These highly stressful things, getting into and out of the gravity well, the atmosphere, are the most difficult and dangerous operations of any spaceflight.

Science as adventure. As in sitting in a hard uncomfortable squeeaky chair in a cold drafty library where you are constantly shushed for the squeaks and it’s too damn cold to sit on the floor. As in remembering to write everything down. As in empirical measurement.

As in imagining how that fossil lived and drawing a picture of it. If a skeleton is a sketch like that of a fish in stone. An idea of what would be there were the meat not missing.

Science as adventure. As in riding the fastest vehicle to the highest heights. As in, outside the atmosphere.

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