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23.5 Degrees: The Earth is Blue Like an Orange
Moonwalk Anniversary Musings
By Stella Maris
July 18, 2009
Space, the final frontier!
© Susan Derges, Full Moon Briars, 2006
My unique dining experience with the Starchild Skull inspired me to consider all of the usual theoretical implications that genuine alien contact would have on our planetary worldview. Therefore, I had to appreciate the synchronicity of subsequently receiving an invitation shortly afterwards to attend a reception by Space Adventures, the premier space tourism company who had coordinated the flight of the very first private space tourist to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2001.
I reasoned that, hey, if the Aliens won't openly come to us, why don't we just go to them?
It usually doesn't take much persuasion, even under normal circumstances, to encourage me to attend a champagne soirée in a five-star hotel suite. But, in this instance, the astronaut Norm Thagard, a veteran of five orbital space missions, and a consultant to Space Adventures, would be available to answer prospective space tourists' questions at the reception. So, lured by the promise of fine sparkling wine, coupled with the opportunity to meet someone who had actually viewed the Earth from space, I soon found myself accelerating to yet another, albeit more salubrious, tourist coordinate in central London.
Based in Arlington, Virginia, with an office in Moscow, Space Adventures' team of aerospace and adventure travel experts have been liaising with the Russian Space Program since 1998 to develop a range “space-related adventure programs”. In addition to providing tourist slots to the ISS, Space Adventures' tours also include flights to the edge of space in the world's fastest fighter jet, zero-gravity flights, cosmonaut training and space flight qualification programs, as well as space shuttle and Soyuz launch tours and expeditions to the world's major space and astronomy facilities. They are now even planning the first-ever privately-funded expedition to the Moon, which you can read more about here.
To my surprize, after an excellent presentation accompanied by copious amounts of champagne and Dim Sum, I found that I was entirely seduced by possibility that I could actually soar into the stratosphere myself. Space, the final frontier! What began as a whimsical curiosity suddenly became a tangible possible reality, accessible to any member of the public who could raise the necessary funds and pass the basic medical examination. And it was the sheer accessibility of the idea that made it so seductive.
Furthermore, I was reassured by the company's track record and professionalism. These were not starry-eyed dreamers, but a competent team of aerospace engineers and businessmen who had converted their own dreams into a reality which could be tapped into by anyone.
Eventually I got the opportunity to ask Norm Thagard my burning question. How did it feel to view the Earth from space? And, more importantly, did this experience transform the team in any way?
To his credit, Norm's eyes only flickered with the barest hint of exasperation as he endured the query that he had been asked a gazillion times before. No, there was no reason for him to have been affected emotionally by this experience. He was an engineer, a scientist. He had been thoroughly and precisely trained for these exercizes. Therefore no aspect of it was at all outside the bounds of routine expectations and there was no new information to process.
At first his response took me aback, but the implication sunk in immediately. If I was to be encapsulated in a fragile man-made spacecraft suspended two hundred and fifty miles above terra firma, completely at the mercy of the laws of physics, I would far rather entrust the odds of my survival to the technically capable expertise of a highly trained, dispassionate engineer like Norm Thagard than to a mystical dreamer like myself, who would most likely be clinging to the porthole in the throes of an ecstatic epiphany, oblivious to minor details like trajectory orbits. Yes, I would happily put my life in Norm's hands in a nanosecond. Beam me up, Scotty.
Where would we romantic dreamers, with our heads in the clouds, be without our rational scientists, with their feet on the ground? After all, what use is our rarefied cosmic vision without the means to ultimately manifest that vision into a solid three-dimensional Reality that can be experienced by one and all out here in our communal space-time continuum?
And then I suddenly understood why our benevolent parents from the heavens haven't rushed down to rescue us from the ultimate conclusion of our collective apocalyptic predispositions.
Like the interwoven threads of an infinitely complex tapestry, every single human being on this planet has a purpose which none of us, from our limited perspective, can even begin to fathom. Therefore, surely we already have access to everything we need, hard-wired into the Consciousness, whatever that may be, of every sentient being on this planet? So, maybe it's time for us to kick off the training wheels and finally learn how to navigate this Mother under our own united free will?
For thousands of years we've shirked our responsibilities, blaming a conveniently demonized scapegoat or even the divine will of an erstwhile anthropomorphized deity, expecting to be bailed out at the last minute by some form of supreme being or suitably superior entity because we can't possibly be expected to cope within the limitations of our own fragile human comprehension.
But, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we've always had the ability within ourselves to return to Kansas at will. We don't need a faux Wizard or even a benevolently disposed Good Witch to show us the way.
Deep down inside, we all know exactly what the answers are and what we need to do…