10 April 2005


Clive Thomson at Collision Detection deliciously describes the recent launch of a satellite from the International Space Station.
This week, though, our DIY space program outdid itself when it launched a new satellite ... by hand. That's right: Salizhan Sharipov grabbed a foot-long, 11-pound sputnik, wandered out onto the surface of the Space Station, and just sorta tossed it off into the howling void.
I admit I'm impressed at the sheer low-fi ingenuity of the launch. But it's clear that the space program is becoming less and less governed by physics and engineering, and more and more by, I don't know, punk rock or something.
I don't know that I would say "punk rock," though. More like those old Heinlein stories where the working class heroes in the boiler rooms of spaceships would be flying through space, reading numbers off of needle gauges and making calculations on butcher paper with the aid of sliderules. Still, cool either way.

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