1) I Wanted To Become An Astronaut
France24, The MARS500 Study (Moscow, June 2010)
Those poor bastards — three Russians, and one man each from France, Italy, and China — were locked in their cramped model ship in Moscow for 520 days. No TV, no Internet, meagre food rations, near zero privacy, and zero sunshine. How did it go? Quite well, apart from listlessness, depression, and erratic sleep. For their burden, each crew member got a cheque for $100,000 USD.
2) It’s Gonna Be A Long Long Time
July is the anniversary of humanity’s first Moon landing — July 20, 1969 — to this day an awe-inspiring achievement, yet unrivaled (though there’s talk of renewed missions).
The risks were enormous; Atlas fuel rockets had been routinely blowing up at Cape Canaveral; Apollo Saturn computers had less processing power than a cellphone. But hey, the Americans made the round trip. Not the men we thought they were at all.
wilcobr, “Elton John – Rocket Man” (2007; 1972)
3) Sitting In A Tin Can Far Above The World
Half a billion people watched live as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin emerged from their tin can. They spent 21 and a half hours on the lunar surface, collecting rocks — 50 pounds worth — and taking pictures. Michael Collins was orbiting in the Columbia, awaiting return of his colleagues. Mission Control was recorded to have said: “Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins is experiencing during this 47 minutes of each lunar revolution when he’s behind the Moon with no one to talk to except his tape recorder aboard Columbia.”
SpaceRip, “Apollo 11: Sea of Tranquility” (2009); Chopin, “2nd in A flat major“
4) You’ve Really Made the Grade
A few days before Apollo moon landing, David Bowie — 22 years old — released the song that would become his first big hit. Here he is later that year at the Ivor Novello Awards accepting the “Special Merit Award for Originality.”
David Bowie, “Space Oddity” (Ivor Novello Awards, 1969)
5) No Happiness For Men In Space
July, 1969 may have been the month the Russians lost the race to the Moon, but it’s also when their own Andrei Tarkovsky was writing a most remarkable screenplay based on the Stanisław Lem novel “Solaris.” Thank the stars.
Andrei Tarkovsky, “Solaris: Man Needs Man” (1972)
6) Life After Darth
The 70s were filled with dreams of space travel and the deep and dire questions they provoked. “Star Wars,” released in 1977, sort of changed the tone. That year, French TV director, Rémy Grumbach, devised this fitting tribute to the George Lucas franchise.
Rémy Grumbach, “Star Wars Choreography” (1977)
Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Monsieur Grumbach was way ahead of you.
7) We Make The Same Mistakes All Over Again
30 years later, a few North American scum used the theme of space travel to be all, like, nostalgic and ironic and cool.
LCD Soundsystem, “North American Scum” (2007)
8) You Do It For The Love
Diego Urbina of the MARS500 Study (still locked inside the model spaceship) said he imagined a “future where people will be going frequently to space and we will be working in space and it will be very usual.”
And why not? Space olympics anyone?
The Lonely Island, “The Space Olympics” (from “Incredibad,” 2009)
meesolee, “A Can of Pop” (set to a little Busby Berkeley, 2007)
10) Out Of An Ill-Designed World
Final thoughts to Andrei Tarkovsky who gives us, no less, the meaning of life on Earth. Is space travel a means to spiritual enrichment, or another distraction from our main purpose in life?
Andrei Tarkovsky, “A Poet of the Cinema: On Art” (by Donatella Baglivo, 1984)
Just use the force.