Getting out

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I was lucky enough to sit in the front row when André Kuipers, the very Dutch astronaut who had spent 6 months on ISS, shared his story and experience.

The accommodation experience in ISS must be tedious in one way and remarkable in many other ways. It's a limited area in which life and work are mixed altogether, while right outside those small observation windows, a unique view to earth and space.

On ISS, it takes just 93 minutes to finish one orbit and you see about 15 sun rises and 15 sun sets every 24 hours. I imagine that I would very quickly loose the sense of times since days and nights are switching in hourly bases -- just like what happened to me in the stay-at-home days.

The trip to to visit ISS is probably the most carbon-expensive way amongst all means of doing travelling, not to mention that it is basically a public event, the kind of event that would made all passengers celebrities. Obviously, being pretty much the furthest place from earth with some decent facility for a long-stay, ISS is not a good place for a secret hideout.

The return trip is also tricky and there are many ways it can fail, especially since a significant portion is basically just free-falling. But obviously all those years of preparations and learning experiences all paid off and we barely hear any traffic accidents nowadays when it comes to travelling to/from space. Oh well, one could argue that the number of space trips per year is too low to be statistically accountable.

I was surprised, or perhaps not surprised at all, to hear that the very first important event after landing on earth in the middle of Eurasia continent, is to be given the visa document to legally enter the land. Somewhere in between ISS and earth landscape, there is the political boundary. If space even became a generally-viable traffic channel, border control must be the part that makes it looks stupid. Should I bring my passport alone just for this moment ?

The talk from André is both entertaining and inspirational, at least to me. While most of us do not get to staying on earth orbit for 6 months, it reminded me to be less of a house potato and to go out seeing something beautiful. Not necessarily to somewhere far away, since even a good old city church nearby always have some surprise elements left to be discovered.

Now in the middle of 2022, while travelling slowly starts again, it seems to have become even more vividly true that: even with all the tedious / dangerous / irrelevant parts in the process, we ought to be moving around, just to see the world.