As is often the case with music thoughts of one lead to thoughts of another, sometimes it’s an oblique thing with a spurious train of thought that ends up somewhere unexpected, sometimes it’s not. I mean it’s hardly surprising that whilst singing Bowie’s Space Oddity in my head – I’m forbidden from singing out loud, it frightens small children and animals – that my thoughts should turn to the accomplishments of man in terms of getting into space, I mean it. is. just. MAMMOTH!
Initial efforts to put people into space were simply Herculian and the pilots and scientists involved were either extremely brave or extremely stupid … rumour has it though that stupid people aren’t allowed into space. Not yet anyway.
If you read over that last paragraph you might note one thing, I talk in the past tense, as if getting into space is an easy thing now, like we all do it, like there’s no risk. It’s often taken for granted now that there are satellites in space, that men have been to the moon and that there is an international space station which – to the best of my limited knowledge – is always manned, but even now it’s not easy. On the 1st Feb it will be the 10th Anniversary of the the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the loss of all crew as it attempted re-entry having been earlier damaged during lift off. Thinking back, it’s something I remember quite clearly now.
In spite of the difficulties we still hear about the potential for space tourism, indeed companies exist to [potentially] serve that very purpose, Virgin Galactic (what a brilliant spin on the Virgin Atlantic name!) for example. I’m sure we can all imagine what it must be like, even the reality might be quite different, but in many respects it’d be a bit like someone deciding to set-up a travel agent for going to Australia on holiday in the years immediately after Cook discovered it was there! Buy two tickets, get one bout of scurvy for free and possibly be smashed to death on rocks or drowned in high seas . . . sounds like great fun!
And still, in spite of this tragedy and those before it we still consider going to space as if it’s something that ‘just happens’, that can be taken for granted. And yet it’s really not. It’s quite incredible. Think about.