obviously, the devil's in the details. but, it's all true. It's time for everyone to just say goodbye to something that will never be again.
A view of Detroit from 220 miles above
Jerry M. Linenger/ U.S. astronaut/Mir cosmonaut
Probably the greatest gift that I received from traveling in space was a change in perspective.
During my 132 days on the Russian space station Mir, I was as isolated as I had never been in my life. My crewmates spoke no English, we only talked in Russian to mission control Moscow, and the communication system aboard the creaky spaceship was static-filled, unreliable and sporadic. I was cut off, removed from mankind, stuck with myself. I learned a lot about myself, a lot about human nature.
Juxtapose that profound isolation with a most spectacular, grand view of the world. One cannot help but look at the "big picture," to think strategically when viewing planet Earth as a whole. Whenever I do not fully understand something, perhaps a conflict between people or between nations, my space-acquired instinct makes me step back, look at the bigger picture. If I still do not understand, I step back farther and re-examine the problem. Understanding follows.
I saw Detroit from space. What a setting! The Great Lakes are indeed well-named: the greatest collection of freshwater on Earth. At the limits of my visual acuity, I could make out a hairline crack in the earth — I-75 lined with the contrasting white of snow. Squinting, I could just make out the Ambassador Bridge. Looking more broadly, the curvature of the Earth and half of our country.
And of course, the mitten of Michigan looks, well, like God took special care and planted his left hand on our special place on the planet.
The space shuttle program after 30 years of incredible highs (deploying, repairing and upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope, capturing broken satellites, launching planetary probes and building the sprawling, permanently manned International Space Station) and a couple of heartbreaking lows (Challenger and Columbia tragedies) is coming to an end.
It was a tough decision for NASA that boiled down to economics: You cannot build the next generation spacecraft without phasing out the present one. You cannot be bold and move technology and mankind forward without letting go of the past.
Use your limited resources — brainpower, engineering facilities and budget — wisely. Short-term sacrifice (the inability of the U.S. to send a person to space for perhaps as long as five years) for long-term progress (the ability to send an astronaut to Mars and beyond).
Read the rest at The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110721/...#ixzz1Sm04xWoe