All rights reserved. The Italian astronaut holds the record for the second longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a woman, having spent days on the International Space Station in When the massive geologic forces that have sculpted the planet are visible at a glance, the eons in which we crafted pyramids and skyscrapers become nearly indistinguishable. For most of us, Earth is inescapably larger than life. Even now, after nearly six decades of human spaceflight, precious few people have rocketed into orbit and seen the sun peeking out from behind that curved horizon.
Since , a mere people have had this rarefied experience. Fewer, just 24, have watched Earth shrink in the distance, growing smaller and smaller until it was no larger than the face of a wristwatch.
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And only six have been completely alone behind the far side of the moon, cut off from a view of our planet as they sailed in an endlessly deep, star-studded sea. In the NASA astronaut visited the Hubble Space Telescope, some miles above the planet, on a mission to fix the beloved eye in the sky for the last time. With verdant South American rain forests, rugged African deserts, and sparkling city lights spread out below him, the planet looked like a paradise. This is what heaven must look like. I think of our planet as a paradise.
We are very lucky to be here. After all, our physiology evolved specifically to succeed on this planet, not above it. The building blocks of modern human communication, words are necessarily constrained by meaning and connotation, no matter which language you choose Parmitano speaks five. And until the midth century, there was no need to express what it means to see our planet in the fiercely primeval essence of space.
In September , during her second visit to the International Space Station, Nyberg made a stuffed dinosaur for her three-year-old son.
It was, perhaps, the first toy sewn in space, constructed from spare material the mechanical engineer found aboard the orbiting outpost. Making the stuffed animal helped her feel more in touch with her loved ones far below. But the creative project was also a manifestation of the deep connection Nyberg felt to ecosystems past and present while she was in orbit.
Every single part of the Earth reacts with every other part. Every little animal is important in that ecosystem. If I could get every Earthling to do one circle of the Earth, I think things would run a little differently. Canadian spacefarer Chris Hadfield says that while orbiting Earth, he felt more connected to the people on the planet than ever before.
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Kathy Sullivan, who in became the first American woman to perform a space walk, returned with an abiding awe for the intricate systems that come together to make Earth an improbable oasis. The Russian cosmonaut holds the record for time spent in space, with cumulative days logged from to For him, the experience was a lesson in the virtues of teamwork, which become amplified in the lethal environment of spaceflight.
But he wonders if we as a species will survive our more selfish actions. A veteran of three NASA spaceflights from to , Lu looked back at the planet and was struck by the massive craters pressed into its crust by past bombardments. Life has managed to essentially completely cover this planet in all sorts of different places—it finds a way.
After retiring from NASA, Sullivan led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for three years, using the robotic eyes of orbiting satellites to pursue her passion.
She says Earth from above is so captivatingly beautiful, she never grew bored looking at it. Even when words fail us, a single picture of home from above can change the perspectives of millions of people. In the Apollo 8 crew became the first people to rocket far away from Earth and loop around the moon. On Christmas Eve, astronaut William Anders snapped what would become an unforgettable image: a lush world rising above the sterile, cratered lunar horizon.
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But when an injury cut short his athletic career, his life took a dramatic turn— into orbit. The colors were so varied, he found himself searching for new ways to describe all the shades of blue. His thirst for knowledge continues to distinguish his efforts to inspire people, especially kids, to preserve the planet and chase their dreams. Clearly, a desire to protect the planet is common among those who have left it. Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka has logged more cumulative days in space than anyone else. The allure of spaceflight kept him on the job for 28 years, but something even more powerful than gravity kept bringing him home.
It is one of about items that will be auctioned in November. Credit Credit Heritage Auctions.
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By Kenneth Chang. He was selected to play in the all-star game — but he had to skip it, because he was at Cape Canaveral in Florida to watch his father, Neil A. Armstrong, blast off to the moon.
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As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 approaches, Rick and his brother Mark, 55, are auctioning about 3, belongings of their father, who died in In the process, they are revisiting their childhoods and the enduring legacy of their father as the first person to walk on the moon. The items to be auctioned include flags, medallions, stamped envelopes and other memorabilia that made the trip to the moon and back when the Apollo 11 lunar lander set down on July 20, Others come from much earlier years, like a letter that Neil Armstrong wrote as a boy to the Easter bunny.
Most of the material had been sitting in basements and storage lockers for decades. They could have donated everything to a museum or a university, but then many, if not most, of the items might have sat in boxes, unseen and unstudied. In an auction, each item is researched so that buyers know what they are buying. Photographs of every item will remain online afterward. The first batch of about items will be sold on Nov. As a preview, some will be on exhibit Oct. It did not seem particularly extraordinary or anything.
Their mother, Janet Armstrong, taught synchronized swimming. They would have dinner usually at the same time every evening. Sometimes their father would get home on time. Sometimes he was away for NASA business. There was always an emphasis on doing well in school. For the occasional family vacations, they flew to Acapulco, Mexico, in a small private plane they co-owned. Usually with an empty bottle or two that we could pee in. It was the first time American astronauts successfully docked with another spacecraft in orbit.
But one of the thrusters aboard Gemini 8 malfunctioned and the spacecraft spun faster and faster. With the astronauts on the verge of losing consciousness, he shut off the thrusters and slowed the spin with the backup system. Only years later did Rick and Mark learn how close their father was to dying that day.
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The astronauts, of course, understood the dangers, and life insurance was unaffordable or unavailable for astronauts. Before launch, the astronauts autographed commemorative envelopes that remained on Earth — a financial safety net for their families to sell if tragedy befell them in space. We were never worried about whether dad would come back or not. He was just on a flight. It might as well have been an airplane, a business trip.
A business trip to the moon. It really was like that.
For Apollo 11, the media attention increased.
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