Sat, 02 Dec 2000

Out in space

Allow me the time to take you to the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting about 400 kilometers above the earth at a speed of 28,000 km per hour. At year's end, when most people stop thinking for a few moments of worldly affairs such as bills and promotions and concentrate more on the meaning of life and death, it may be worth looking at what the Germans call die Schopfung, and the English call "the creation".

The ISS is manned by two Russians, after all the rocket that carried them there blasted off from Russian soil, and an American. The American is Bill Shepherd, the two Russians are Yuli Gidzenco and Sergei Kiralen.

It is not too convenient living in the Zvezda, where there are three people working but only two bedrooms available. An American-made Destiny module is to replace the Zvezda some time in the future. The mission of these three is to construct a space station for future space travelers, first, of course, the scientists, then journalists and later people going on honeymoon.

What you and I may want to know is whether such a human endeavor is useful in the immediate future for the well being of the majority of people on this globe. Why should we want to live in locations where there is no oxygen instead of staying on earth, where there is still oxygen and water in abundance.

It sounds foolish to ask if the cost of building and maintaining such a space "island" would not be better spent on alleviating poverty and making the earth more habitable and roomier for humans, to prevent the killing of fellow countrymen because of a lack of space and land.