My softball practice got rained out Saturday morning. Just as I was trying to decide whether to be angry at my coach, God, or nature, I was diverted by a tweet from NASA. The SpaceX/Dragon CRS-14 Cargo Craft was about to be released from the International Space Station (ISS). So at 9:23 am Eastern, instead of slogging through the traffic on I-95 north, I watched the event unfold live on my 24-inch computer monitor.
The robotic arm released the craft, and it went through a series of three departure burns, to move away a safe distance from the elliptical track of the ISS. Then it began its return to earth, with 4,000 pounds of cargo, mostly critical science experiments. It would be controlled by Space X flight controllers in California, moving from its position over Australia, to splash down in the Pacific Ocean west of California. The cargo will be removed and the craft will travel to Texas, to be refurbished for re-flight at a later date. (BTW, on the same day, NASA launched its latest mission to Mars, which is due to land in November.)
There were views from earth, outside the ISS, and the cupola, with the same sight lines as the astronauts. Some of it was grainy footage, tough to discern what was happening. At other times it was spine tingling, realizing that you were watching real-time as something breathtaking was taking place, being streamed live on the Internet for all to see.
There was a time an event such as this would be covered live, by every television network on earth. Now it barely registers a blip even from science geeks. Real action has a hard time competing with the drama, cinematography and star power of a Christopher Nolan film.
But if you allow yourself to be de-sensitized, you’ll miss out on a lot of modern-day miracles. Miracles that are happening all around us, in the moment.
Please. Never lose sight of the awesome astonishment of now.
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