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Journeys of the future

Tue, June 05, 2018 09:38

By the Gazette Editorial Board

AS global media outlets were soaked in such suspense-charged stories as the looming trade war and the chances of a US-North Korea summit convening in Singapore next week, the steppes of Kazakhstan were the scene of a momentous and very significant event. There, at 12:39GMT on Sunday, a trio of a Russian cosmonaut, an American astronaut and a third from Japan disembarked from a Soyuz capsule that brought them back to the Earth after having spent more than five months on the International Space Station (ISS). For those of us who followed the video footages, the scene was magnificent indeed. The glamour part apart, it was a trailer, to borrow a cinematographic term, of what the future of humanity may look like should all goes well, not only on the ISS which has been orbiting Earth at a speed of some 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1999 but also on the land mass of our planet and the human life on it.

 

Two of the event’s multiple implications deserve special attention. First, the trio’s mission in space was characteristically one of conducting scientific research and experiments. A Russian, an American and a Japanese were doing a job that was never marred by political orientations. It was a real service to the humankind. The kind of international co-operation that has existed on deck of the ISS for two decades does foretell the advent of a super-model of international relations that prioritises the loftier interests of humanity and the building of a better knowledge of the space over economic, political, cultural and other variations. Should this trend be let to grow, space exploration may in a foreseeable future help advance the quality of life for humans, considering that it is now commonly known that the findings and conclusions of space research translate in a matter of less than two decades into usable applications and advances in health, urban life and the management of resources on Earth.

 

Quite interesting and also of profound relevance to the multi-national character of ISS tasks and crew composition has been the story of the football that the ISS crew members were using for practicing and the returning trio brought back with them. The story goes that after the capsule had landed, Russian cosmonaut Shkaplerov carried the ball with him on the trip to Moscow and that the ball would be used during the opening game of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow on June 14. Though there been no confirmation from the FIFA so far, the mere floating of this story asserts the universal character of the ISS mission.

 

Secondly, the successful landing of the capsule that brought the space trio back ‘home’ clearly indicates that the age of space travel is drawing near. Augmenting this prediction is the observation that as the ISS trio were being escorted out of the Soyuz capsule, another trio composed of a NASA astronaut, a European Space Agency astronaut and a Russian Roscosmos astronaut were readying for a launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, tomorrow to join two NASA and one Russian crew members on the ISS. The frequency of the trips to and from the space station suggests that, barring major eventualities, it would not be too long before space travel establishes itself as a normal practice, as much normal in fact as air travel now is.

AS global media outlets were soaked in such suspense-charged stories as the looming trade war and the chances of a US-North Korea summit convening in Singapore next week, the steppes of Kazakhstan were the scene of a momentous and very significant event. There, at 12:39GMT on Sunday, a trio of a Russian cosmonaut, an American astronaut and a third from Japan disembarked from a Soyuz capsule that brought them back to the Earth after having spent more than five months on the International Space Station (ISS). For those of us who followed the video footages, the scene was magnificent indeed. The glamour part apart, it was a trailer, to borrow a cinematographic term, of what the future of humanity may look like should all goes well, not only on the ISS which has been orbiting Earth at a speed of some 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1999 but also on the land mass of our planet and the human life on it.

 

Two of the event’s multiple implications deserve special attention. First, the trio’s mission in space was characteristically one of conducting scientific research and experiments. A Russian, an American and a Japanese were doing a job that was never marred by political orientations. It was a real service to the humankind. The kind of international co-operation that has existed on deck of the ISS for two decades does foretell the advent of a super-model of international relations that prioritises the loftier interests of humanity and the building of a better knowledge of the space over economic, political, cultural and other variations. Should this trend be let to grow, space exploration may in a foreseeable future help advance the quality of life for humans, considering that it is now commonly known that the findings and conclusions of space research translate in a matter of less than two decades into usable applications and advances in health, urban life and the management of resources on Earth.

 

Quite interesting and also of profound relevance to the multi-national character of ISS tasks and crew composition has been the story of the football that the ISS crew members were using for practicing and the returning trio brought back with them. The story goes that after the capsule had landed, Russian cosmonaut Shkaplerov carried the ball with him on the trip to Moscow and that the ball would be used during the opening game of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow on June 14. Though there been no confirmation from the FIFA so far, the mere floating of this story asserts the universal character of the ISS mission.

 

Secondly, the successful landing of the capsule that brought the space trio back ‘home’ clearly indicates that the age of space travel is drawing near. Augmenting this prediction is the observation that as the ISS trio were being escorted out of the Soyuz capsule, another trio composed of a NASA astronaut, a European Space Agency astronaut and a Russian Roscosmos astronaut were readying for a launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, tomorrow to join two NASA and one Russian crew members on the ISS. The frequency of the trips to and from the space station suggests that, barring major eventualities, it would not be too long before space travel establishes itself as a normal practice, as much normal in fact as air travel now is.

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