January 22, 2014 § Leave a comment
By Dan P. Lee, originally published in the September 30, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.
Against a black screen, these words appear first.
“At 600 km above planet Earth, the temperature fluctuates between +258 and -148 degrees Fahrenheit. There is nothing to carry sound. No air pressure. No oxygen. Life in space is impossible.”
The screen disappears.
The planet—this planet, in three dimensions—appears.
Its arc engulfs you, outstretching in front, beside, and, somehow, below you. It is massive. Silently, majestically, cloud-covered and multicolored, it spins. There is the immediate sensation of everything—Earth, you—floating.
A spot appears along an orbital plane of the planet, off to the right, very far away, tiny, slowly moving closer. It is impossible to make out what it is. Telecommunication sparks: muffled, hollow, as if inside your ears, bits of a conversation between here and Houston. There are so many stars all around you. The planet continues spinning, the spot moves closer, drifting on its orbit until finally it arrives—the American space shuttle and a team of astronauts floating outside—and begins orbiting in the same space with you.