Saturday, 22 March 2014

The First Strike in Space

Skylab space station (1973-74)
Back to the stuff from which science fictions are made, I recently picked up on this story about the first space strike when the organiser, William R. Pogue, died on 3 March 2014. He was one of a three-man crew that flew the longest, and the last, manned mission aboard Skylab, from 16 November 1973 to 8 February 1974.

The strike, which took place while in orbit, was staged (amazingly) to negotiate more time for contemplating the universe. Pogue, an Air Force officer, explained his actions and those of the crew as just wanting more time to look out the window and think. In Science News (1985), he said the flight had made him “much more inclined toward humanistic feeling toward other people, other crewmen [...] I try to put myself into the human situation, instead of trying to operate like a machine”. While his reasoning baffled ground controllers, who thought perhaps the strike was a sign of depression, the chance to reflect on what must have been a unique and aweing set of circumstances definitely seems like something worth fighting for.

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