Going Home

How do you spend your last day in space?

When a frontier feels like home, it is no longer a frontier; it has become “civilization.” Those determined to wander must now pack their bags and move further into the cosmos.

Space Station is very much on the frontier. It is only my temporary home, and now it is time for me to venture back to my real home. For my generation, Earth is, and will remain, home. The technology for space travel is still in the process of development, and is not sufficiently mature to open this frontier to humanity. We are not prepared to call space our home—yet.

On Earth, the frontiers opened slowly. The technology of sailing was known and advanced for over a thousand years before the Earth was circumnavigated. Such bold acts require the technology, the will, and the audacity to explore. Sometimes you have one, but not the others.

I only hope that my small efforts here, perhaps adding one grain of sand to the beach of knowledge, will help enable a generation of people in the future to call space “home.”

Last Day in Space

Tomorrow we light our rocket,
  we burn our engines and likewise,
   burn a hole in the sky,
   And thus fall to Earth.
How does one spend your last day in space?
  Looking at Earth,
   a blue jewel surrounded by inky blackness,
    Pure Occipital Ecstasy.
Unconstrained by your girth,
  you fly with vestigial wings.
The atmosphere on edge,
  iridescent blue with no earthly parallel,
   Electrifying Diaphanous Beauty.
Guarded by Sirens of Space,
  singing saccharine songs,
   beckoning you to crash on the atmos-reef
  which tears you limb from limb
   and scorching what remains
    into cosmic croutons that sprinkle onto
     the garden salad of Earth.
One last feast out the window,
  A looking glass of Wonderland.
Offering both a portal to see your world,
  and a translucent reflection to see yourself.
  what is your place in this world below,
   how do you change it,
    how does it change you.
We are wedded to this planet,
  until mass extinction we do part.
   Perhaps one planet is not enough.
You study your charts,
  we prepare our spaceship,
   and our minds.
We make ready our descent,
  into these seemingly gentle arms.
The eager anticipation of hugging your wife,
  your boys with grins followed by pouting faces,
   both excited to see you but not understanding why you left.
Oh how does one spend your last day in Space.
  What would you do?

Don Pettit
Node 2, Deck 5
ISS, LEO 51.603

Editor’s Note: Don and his crewmates André Kuipers and Oleg Kononenko are scheduled to undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the space station at 12:48 a.m. EDT Sunday, and land in Kazakhstan at 3:14 a.m.

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