The Men in Blue

( A low gravity flight test, NASA TV. If anyone can tell me the name of the presenter there ? )

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I turned to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

The Song of the Wandering Angus, William Butler Yeats.

This poem makes up a central part of the story told in ST:Enterprise “Rogue Planet“, actually as part of a first contact scenario. The episode concerns a shape shifting life form that appears to the Captain as a beautiful woman, not unlike that fish that turns into a girl in the poem.

rogue_planet_wraith_true_form.jpg

( “Wraith” life-form )

rogue_planet_wraith.jpg

( “Wraith” life-from in shifted state. )

After Captain Archer has helped it, the life-from speaks to him … “Never stop seeking the seemingly unobtainable”. A tacit reference to the coming birth of Star Fleet in the Star Trek Universe ? Anyway, that line has some resonances for me as well. Many years ago I had a dream where, at the same time as fighting personal problems in my life, I was filing into and lining up in a room with many people. Next to me was a woman I had just met. We were all wearing blue uniforms, and were gathering to listen to some introduction or speech. Blue uniforms ? It can only be NASA.

Now I find myself working on NASA World Wind projects. Almost working in an unofficial, volunteer function for NASA. Of course, I could easily end up working for ESA or some other Space Agency, but I seem to remember that ESA Astronauts put on that same blue wear.

“Never stop seeking…” ? I’ve heard some of the Astronauts on the ISS, like Clay Anderson, say very similar things. “Never give up on your dream.”. Of course that’s how some of them got up there. They never gave up on following their dream. This just makes me even more sure of the value of the International Space Station. I’ve had to stop reading some people’s forum posts about “…that’s why the ISS was sold”, or it “doesn’t do any real science”. Apart from the fact that the ISS has been churning out “real Science” for years and will continue to do so (every bolt that holds it together holds whole archives of Scientific engineering miracles, for example), it continues to be a huge beacon of hope for millions on Planet Earth. For the first time, after millions of years of evolution, we have an outpost in Space, and it’s not going to stop now. A symbol of what can be achieved by people not willing to give up their dreams. Not willing to give into the Cynicism that says “…you have to be realistic, put your dream to one side”. These people didn’t listen to that, and look what happened.

DJ Barney

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