Almost every one of us—from the kid next door to Tencent founder Pony Ma—has been obsessed with celestial phenomena at some point in our lives, and maybe even dreamt of studying or travelling among the stars. Space travel, as one of our stories explains this week, may not be that far in the future. In about 10 years, we might be working or vacationing in space and returning home to Earth. From India’s Gaganyaan programme to the US’ Artemis missions, scientists around the world are working on ways to send more humans into space.
Space flight has been part of human endeavour for decades, and now, researchers are developing everything from solar arrays to generate energy on the Moon to self-assembling tiles to build “homes” there. As we discover in this issue, travelling in space isn’t just about the thrill of the unknown, it could also make life on Earth so much richer.
Yet, almost every photograph of Earth, taken from space, shows that this planet, right now, is the best place for us to live. Don’t take my word for it: We have a story on space imagery, the science and art that goes into photographing Earth and other planets and galaxies. Each of these images—from “Earthrise” to more recent marvels of colour and drama taken by the James Webb Space Telescope—tells a story about the diversity of Earth. Or as Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian citizen in space, continues to say—decades after he was part of an Indo-Soviet mission—it is only in space that one realises the value of the planet on which we live.
It’s a thought that many who have explored the outer reaches have echoed. Maya Angelou’s version of this truth is more poetic: We, this people, on a small and lonely planet/ Traveling through casual space/ Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns…. We must confess that we are the possible/ We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world.
Lounge columnist Rohit Brijnath makes a similar point when he says sports fans need to stop obsessing about GOATs and player stats and instead be amazed by the sheer achievement of individual sportspersons. Mohsin Hamid discusses his latest novel, talking about the nature of change, and how punctuation creates a space to change perspectives in narratives. We also have suggestions on what to watch, eat and do, and ideas to brighten up your wardrobe, whether you are planning a trip to space or to the office.
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