View from the Cupola on the ISS. Credit: NASA

A different perspective of Earth

By Charles Black 25 December 2012

(Sen) – OPINION. This Christmas Day, six astronauts look at Earth from the International Space Station, whilst several hundred future astronauts look up at the night sky and dream of the time they will look at their home planet from space.

The current Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station is commanded by NASA Astronaut Kevin Ford. As the space station orbits Earth every ninety minutes, travelling at approximately 28,000 kilometres per hour, Commander Ford is accompanied by US Doctor Tom Marshburn, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy, Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. These astronauts are the envoys of mankind and whilst they originate from different parts of the planet, they, like everyone, originate from stardust and orbit one planet that is their home.

The space station is a shining light, one that represents what humanity can achieve with vision, political will and global science. It is a symbol of co-operation overcoming barriers, showing how nation states which are oceans apart, both physically and in terms of political and economic evolution, can combine and co-operate to build a new outlet in space. This bright light you can see flying through the night sky, reflecting both the Sun’s light and the unity that can be achieved by the exploration of space.

The six explorers now in space belong to an exclusive club. Since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly in space on April 12, 1961, only about 500 humans have seen Earth from space. In the coming years that number is set to increase substantially as private companies begin transporting tourists into space.

Read more: A different perspective of Earth — SEN.

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