Monday, 18 February 2013

Floating In Space.

The earth spins and the sun dips below the distant western mountains, behind which the sunset dies, daily. Its fading orange blur blends seamlessly into the darker blue then black of night. The moon is three quarters of the way to its nightly zenith and a sprinkling of stars and planets are just appearing above the Forth valley. Falkirk twinkles in the distance. Spinning above me, 200 miles above me to be precise, the international space station draws a little white arc across the Scottish central belt at a steady pace, before fading away in the eastern sky.

It’s a dizzying spectacle of numbers though a faintly underwhelming one to experience. At roughly 50 metres long and 20,000 kilos, it is a sizable chunk of human endeavour that’s been floating with the space junk since November 1998. Yet there is a certain poetry to see it, as science’s own created speck in the sky, slowly doing its job as unspectacularly as possible. Just five groups coming together to further research into the biggest and smallest things imaginable: space, and cell growth under microgravity. Just for a few minutes the idea of it is enough to restore my faith in humanity.

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