Space and Earth: Shuttle Glory

March 4, 2011

Mind blowing.

Awe inspiring.

Terrifying.

Utterly beautiful.

Humbling.

/ Video on Phil Plait’s blog.  / Obviously I cannot find a single word to convey my feelings. Awe struck at the sheer, enormous power of the boosters as they lift the shuttle high into the atmosphere. Watching the pressure of the booster’s approach surging waves and whitewater even before it touches the surface of that blue, blue ocean. The same ocean that makes our planet such a glory when seen from space. The same ocean that nurtures life on this fragile world.

It is long. It is not ‘too long, don’t watch’.

The boosters break and fall; the shuttle rises on, out of the atmosphere, to that clear space. Layers of cloud – 3d depth; Earth spinning in and out of view.

Absolutely terrifying. Absolutely exhilarating. Trying to imagine how it would feel to be on the shuttle. Impossible. The astronauts’ words can only spark images and impressions in my mind. Associations. I’m actually afraid of take-off and landing when flying. I took pilot’s training. I comfort myself by saying things like, “There’s the VOR.  We’re taxiing onto runway 12R.  I comment on the use of the elevators or the ailerons. I love international flights with the maps you can follow, and that give the statistics of airspeed, temperature, distance. Gives me an illusion of control. (I dislike being a passenger in cars, as well) Then take that fear of being helpless – of knowing shuttles have failed, add it to the indescribable thrill of actually being on the shuttle. I cannot find words.

Hard not to anthropomorphize when so involved with what I’m viewing. I felt, not pity, but sympathy for the boosters. Having spent their tremendous energy to launch that fragile vehicle and its even more fragile passengers off this planet, they fall, spent but proud, to the ocean beneath. And the shuttle soars free.

The most humbling thing? That we did it. Not me, and maybe not you, but we as humans did this. We can do amazing things. We have the minds, the courage and the spirit to accomplish wonders beyond belief. But only if we keep trying. Only if we overcome ignorance, fear, repression. Why should we wallow in a religious darkness of hate and oppression when we can travel the universe?

We are humans – we are the animal with dreams and aspirations. Please don’t let us die in stupidity and fear.

Waxing into purple prose, yet what else could I say? It was really spiff? Cool? Awesome?  I am resigned to inelegant eloquence.

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