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Thu, Jun 19, 2003

Staring Out the Window of the ISS

It's Lonely Up There

The two scientists aboard the International Space Station, US astronaut Ed Lu (below) and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, have had to curtail a lot of their scheduled activities, since the Columbia breakup and the ensuing crew reduction.

The seven-man spacecraft, usually with three aboard, has just these two men, rattling around inside. It must be lonesome.

One can imagine the poor guys, just sitting up there, waiting for the next Soyuz supply ship, wondering about what it would be like, to feel gravity again, staring out the windows like your puppy does, when you're late coming home from work...

"Hey, Yuri -- look over there! There's something out there, floating around with us!"

"What, Ed? You're not seeing those little green men again, are you?"

"No, Yuri. I really mean it. Look -- see that?"

"That little thing? Isn't that a tag, like we had on all those cables?"

"Well, I don't care, Yuri, what it is. Where'd I put that camera?"

After what passed for a flurry of activity, over a few days, NASA said it thinks that Ed Lu's pictures are of an identification tag, such as are used to get the right data cable in the right place. It's probably been floating around, since some EVAs, months ago; only now has its path again crossed the ISS's orbit.

Or, it's a sign of other intelligent life, perhaps from another world, light years away, a planet of creatures who are intergalactic litterbugs...

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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