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The Last and the First May 14, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in inventions, science, science fiction, sense of wonder, space.
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Alas, today the shuttle Atlantis makes its last launch. Ultimate. The end. No more. But back in 1973, when there was hope for manned space, Skylab was launched.

It was never clear what was going on inside the Skylab (to me, at least) but some notable astronauts were aboard, such as Owen Garriott. You might recognize the name Richard Garriott (aka Lord British). I do know some crystal growing experiments were done, I think using a Pfann zone levelling furnace. Nifty way to grow perfect single crystals in micro-g

I remember when Skylab “crashed” which always seemed a pity to lose this much mass popped up into orbit. But dynamics will out. Or, as they say, gravity works.

Somehow the ISS (what a crappy name) just isn’t the same. And with Atlantis’ last mission to restock the shelves with Spaghetti-Os and pick up the trash, it will see fewer visitors. By the end of the year if the Russkies don’t maintain it, the ISS is history. Give the keys to the Japanese and the Chinese, I say. It’s probably housing worthwhile experiments but I don’t hear about them, just the toilet-paper runs to and from. Mostly, I long for the days of hope and promise of the Stanford torus and of course, Tom Swift’s Outpost in Space.

I suppose my “Space Islands” stories might be a longing for such times but tossing in transhuman and other themes makes them more current and maybe give a taste of the adventure of NEO travel. Which is dying with the mothballing of the Atlantis.

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