While observing Jeff Bezos and his crew lift off into space, former astronaut Ronald J. Garan Jr. was asked what it felt like (”Jeff Bezos blasts off into space on his rocket company’s 1st passenger flight,” July 20). This was his response:
“They’re probably marveling at the indescribable beauty of our planet... What I experienced in space the first time I looked out the window was an indescribable feeling of gratitude — gratitude for the opportunity to see the planet from that vantage point, and gratitude for the planet that we’ve been given. And in a way that I won’t fully be able to explain, being physically detached from the Earth made me feel deeply interconnected and deeply interdependent with everyone on it. I think I saw the true unity of our planet, the true unity of our species, and all those things we fight over and quarrel over, all those things we think are so important kind of blurred into insignificance.”
Many astronauts and cosmonauts experience a profound shift in their thinking when they see our planet in the context of the greater universe — a new sense of humility, of unity with their fellow man, the stupidity of fighting and killing one another. Why can’t everyone who sees photos of Earth from space sense the same thing without personally taking an obscenely expensive ride? Carl Sagan put things into perspective perfectly and beautifully in his famous “pale blue dot” talk without ever having to go into space.
Paul Totaro, Bel Air
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