Better together (celebrating 15 years of the ISS)

In a world awash with hype, plaudits mostly fall on deaf ears or at best (perhaps ‘worse’?) only add to the noise of the mob, the often baseless cheer-leading until the next thing starts ‘trending’. Nonetheless, for me at least, the International Space Station [ISS] is one of those rarest of things. Something worth shouting about.

For its gargantuan and incomparable feats of science, tech and engineering, the ISS is worth celebrating. The achievement of overcoming international politics is maybe just as impressive. Perhaps most of all, the simple, ‘humanist’ message from the grand ISS experiment is worth your focus. People, it appears, no matter their culture or creed etc, really can do incredible things together, working diligently towards autonomy and mastery instead of quick-fix striving for short-term rewards (tasty looking ‘carrots’) or reacting to avoid punishment (scary sounding ‘sticks’)… In other words, working together for real purpose not just for profit.

The latter point, for me, is what might be most worth taking from this humble 26 second clip that predominantly celebrates 15 years of the ISS having been active in space…

“Better together”. Click on the image for NASA’s very short clip marking the 15th anniversary of the politically improbable yet evidently successful ‘ISS’.

Post-script. Having never been a scientist, not even a sci-fi reader, it has been truly enriching to dive deep (enough) over the past few years into different areas of research –sci, tech, engineering– so as to realistically convey a certain narrative thread in my debut novella.

Beyond the specific subject matter of relevance to the story, I have learned that you can teach an old dog new tricks. I know a lot more about space exploration and scientific discovery and, yes, of course, I most of all know that I know hardly anything at all about these endless vistas of knowledge…

[Excerpt from Monkey Steals Plum]

Like Mars, Asteroid 98/H8 was back lit by the Sun according to Cicada 13’s on-board camera. Vast methane jets randomly erupted from its silhouetted surface. With little gravity and no atmosphere, the jet streams shocked the rock’s core as they blasted to the back of beyond.

The lopsided rock turned through its irregular orbital path. Feng’s team of international scientists had long tracked the enormous, dumb-bell shape and known it to tumble through its complete orbital rotation once every 13 hours. For over an hour the scientists in Shanghai had waited for fresh data, their shared focus increasingly nudged by the thought of each tock turning back to its tick.  With each turn in space, the pinch of the asteroid’s mid-rift weakened along an unseen fault line.

Bottom line, I will be following the future years of the ISS, and other such missions, many moons after I have closed The Feng Trilogy and moved on to other, more earthly, subjects in other book projects.



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