What I would like to experience most of all would be to find myself freed, even if only for a moment, from the weight of my body. I wouldn’t want to overdo it–just to hang suspended for a reasonable period–and yet I feel intensely envious of those weightless astronauts whom we are permitted to see all too rarely on our TV screens. They seem as much at ease as fish in water: they move elegantly around their cockpit–these days quite spacious–propelling themselves forward by pushing gently off invisible walls, and sailing smoothly through the air to berth securely at their work place. At other times we have seen them conversing, as if it were the most natural thing–one of them ‘the right way up’, the other ‘upside down’ (but of course in orbit there is neither up nor down). Or we have seen them take turns to play childish games: one flicks a toffee with his thumbnail, and it flies slowly and in a perfectly straight line into the open mouth of his colleague. We have seen an astronaut squirt water from a plastic container into the air: the water does not fall or disperse but settles in a roundish mass which then, subject only to the weak forces of surface tension, lazily assumes the form of a sphere. What do they do with it then? It can’t be easy to dispose of without damaging the delicate structures upholding its surface.

I wonder what it would take to make a documentary that would link together these visions, transmitted by some miracle from the satellites that flash past above our heads and above our atmosphere. A film like that, drawn from American and Soviet sources, and with an intelligent commentary, would teach everybody so much. It would certainly be more successful than the nonsense that is put out today, more successful too than porno movies.


Finished With Engines
Letters to the Editor