Tuesday, May 12, 2009

while with silent lifting mind I've trod . . .

I'm a big space exploration junkie and have been since I was a kid. This latest (and final) mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope has as its commander a former flight double for the actors in the 1986 hit movie Top Gun (article here). Atlantis Commander Scott Altman and his crew have a huge, albeit exciting, task in front of them in the next days. Therefore, it seems fitting to post this awesome video that I keep in my bookmarks, followed by one of my favorite poems. And by favorite, I mean I treasure it.

Just ponder the poem's line written in 1941, The high untresspassed sanctity of space, in reference to this information about the Atlantis launch on May 11, 2009.......
Atlantis rose from its seaside pad just after 2 p.m. ET and arced out over the Atlantic, ducking through clouds. Hubble was directly overhead, 350 miles up (560 kilometers up).

For the first time ever, another shuttle was on a nearby launch pad, primed for a rescue mission if one is needed because of a debris strike.

The song is by Era and is simply called "Ameno"

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

-Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed December 11, 1941



Friko said...

Space flights: awesome, breathtaking, heroic, inspiring; man's infinite ambition to reach the stars, both metaphorically and literally, is all that. The term "Hero" is so often meaninglessly debased nowadays, for the people on this flight it is the true description.

And still - there is a part of me which asks:
do we really need to litter and pollute the heavens too?

Nothing is ever easy, is it?

RB said...

I've always thought of space as the Last Frontier, with all that old world romanticism it entails.

Darlene said...

That video was beautiful, but a bit scary. It looked like they were flying so low that they might crash into one of those peaks.

I, too, love that poem It is one to treasure.

Looking to the Stars said...

I love reading tidbits about people, thank you for sharing. The poem is a delight to the soul, I love it. I have always looked to the stars and found the heavens very intersting but not enough to lift my heels from the soil, that is for the more adventurous soul then I :)

Mark said...

What this crew is tasked to do is nothing short of amazing.
I have always loved this poem, it holds a special place in my heart.

Lydia said...

@Friko- Your expressions here were beautiful, and your two questions are deep. I wonder if the space program initially considered what decades of space dumping would eventually mean. I certainly wonder what it will all come to....

@RB- Yes, me too, especially since in my lifetime all frontiers on earth were officially tromped over.

@Darlene- That's why I've saved the video in bookmarks - to watch when I need a thrill!

@Looking to the Stars- That is what telescopes are for, my friend. :)

@Mark- I feel as though my breathing will be shallow until we learn that they are safely back on Earth. Then the poem can be a celebration instead of a prayer...



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