Astronaut Ron Garan Shares "The Orbital Perspective"- A Call To Action
Garan's new book is a must read for anyone passionate about using space to make a difference with problems facing Earth. Today is the four year anniversary of his launch on a Russian Soyuz to spend six months on the International Space Station. They launched from the same pad as Yuri Gagarin and their rocket was honoring the 50th anniversary of that flight. Garan was lucky enough to be on orbit on April 12, 2011 to celebrate that anniversary with three Russian Cosmonauts (Dmitri Kondratyev, Andrei Borisenko and Aleksandr Samokutyayev), NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman and Italian ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli. (I was lucky enough that they all agreed to wear Yuri's Night shirts to mark the occasion!)
I decided to finish reading the book and write this review on honor of the anniversary of his launch! I really enjoyed reading Chapter One and Two's discussion of the unlikely marriage of the Russian and U.S. Space Programs to collaborate on the International Space Station. It talks about the cultural barriers that had to overcome and the individual heroes who lived in Russia and put in the time, energy and heart to build the relationships and the trust that the effort ultimately required to be successful. The colorful stories bring that era to life and teach valuable lessons.
I was left powerfully with a feeling that the international space collaborations that have been so tenuously and carefully build up over the past 23 years are not something to take for granted. That like a garden they must be tended and nurtured. We can't let that die. Just because it had been around for most of our adult lives doesn't mean it will continue. It is one miraculous, tenuous foot-hold on peace.
Let's not let it slip but surge up for the next little hand hold to help humanity climb higher. It is our job to expand on the work of Bill Gerstenmaier, Mike Barratt, Jeffrey Manbar and countless others and give international collaboration in space more and more of a solid footing.
The book is inspiring and reminds us that the future of peace is build one person at a time. Garan's refrain #TheKeyIsWe is a useful mantra. We are all in this together. Similarly, Garan also shares about the power of gratitude and it's ability to make us feel connected to everyone and everything. It's a little bit of Orbital Perspective you can carry around in your pocket.
One of my favorite moments of the book is when Garan discloses that he at his four-time spacewalking companion, Mike Fossum, had a ritual. They would listen to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon the night before a spacewalk while camping out in the airlock, then in the morning, to switch the mood, they would listen to Led Zeppelin. "The specific Zeppelin songs didn't matter, but we were required to listen to 'Kashmir' before heading out into the vacuum of space."