I remember some years ago walking around a local castle with my dad. He pointed at the stones and said, “A man put those there. I wonder what his name was?” And I’ve never been able to look at the past the same way again.
— Author unknown
Galactic Portal by Marcin Zajac
Watching the spectacular return of the Crew Dragon capsule over the weekend, reminded me of a few things I love about the space program.
First is the amazing appreciative and acknowledgement culture that exists within NASA. Back when the ISS was under construction and a friend and I would watch it happening live, we would often joke with each other to say, “they’re thanking each other again.” And they do thank each other, often and in self-effacing ways, always claiming that the other team or partners “had the hard jobs” and “made our tasks easy.” It’s really great. I spoke about it here under the vastly different context of movie credits, but in a way it is the same thing: Everyone in the program knows, deeply, that they are part of a larger whole and that it takes everyone in that whole putting in maximum effort to pull off a successful mission. Space is hard™, and things can go awry very quickly (and often have, with visibly disastrous consequences). And so they value everyone’s contribution and, even more so, celebrate the amazing thing they are accomplishing by working together in a collaborative fashion. They remove the “but” out of a phrase like “I am but a…”, and instead recognize that their role, and everyone’s role, is vital. They take no one for granted and they acknowledge it and each other with profuse thank yous.
Second is that within the various space programs a glorious blend of newness and traditions. For certain, space is the new, with sci-fi rockets and slick technology and exploration to be had and discovery to be made and so much learning. But the whole thing is also coupled with deep, and fun, traditions, whether they be wholly enclosed within the space program, such as a traditional pre-launch meal (or peeing on the wheel of the transport vehicle), to something with even deeper roots, such as the ringing of the bell at the docking or departing of a ship. Neither the new nor the old is better than the other, nor is one less or more necessary, both from a technical as well as a human standpoint. And it is just that – as humans, we can and are often at our greatest when we synthesize the two, bringing forth that which empowers us and others and leaving behind that which does not and causes harm. We exist in multitudes, and this is one of them.
And lastly is that multitude, that of the international, global, and humanistic endeavour that is slipping the surly bonds of earth, to dance among the stars and the glory of the universe we inhabit on our tiny blue mote of dust.
Woohoooooo! SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Capsule has returned, safe and sound, back to our glorious earth. I’m excited and ecstatic, what a wonderful and flawless mission this has been. So great, welcome to a new chapter in human spaceflight!
Some fantastic and fantasical cityscape drawings by Laurent Gapaillard!
(click on the images above… they’re so detailed they’re much better seen full screen!)
photo by Radoslav Cernicky
“Sure, it’s been over a decade since we managed to acquire this Zoid,” stated Kannik, head of this particular Zoids stable, “but fortunately, like wine, Zoids only improve with aging. It may have taken a long time to get around to it, but we are beyond excited to have our newest member finally join the team.”
One of the most foundational of Zoids, Command Wolves are some of the most versatile and well varied models. While not large in stature, the Command Wolf (Irvine Custom) is one capable machine, with its large turreted cannon being the prime draw. “That sucker packs a wallop, with good range and accuracy to boot. And while Command Wolves are no feline, it’s agile enough to keep up with the rest of the pride. It expecially makes a great compliment to the shorter-ranged focus of the Blade Liger.”
“And it’s a good looker!” continued Kannik. With its rich tones of deep green with some red flair, and the hyper detail that comes from the Highend Model Master line, most in the crowd seemed to agree.
With 11 Zoids now operating within the team, is there more to come? “Oh my yes. I’ve got three more that have been aging on the shelf, and I may, er, just have purchased our first flying Zoid. It’s currently stuck in a quarantine hold, but it’ll be on its way over soon enough.”
It will only be a matter of finding time enough to get them all up and running.
An amazing video of the sun that spans a decade! Every frame encompasses about an hour, capturing our local star and all of its changing glory.
The video description has some links to some really cool moments, including the transits of Venus and Mercury, sunspot clusters, as well as some very prominent flares. Mesmerizing.
Another awesome and exciting launch, the first crewed Dragon 2 mission! Flawless launch, flawless separation, and she’s flying free, en route to the ISS. Oh, and stage 1 booster landed successfully as well. I’m as giddy as all get go.
Best of all? One of the two astronauts saying, “Let’s light this candle” several minutes before launch. Classic words.