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Astronauts stir young dreams

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 16/12/2015

British astronaut Tim Peake
British astronaut Tim Peake

Even though space travel has been making headlines for many years, there is still something magical about yesterday's blast-off by the Soyuz rocket taking three astronauts to the International Space Station.

There was also a sense of history because Tim Peake, once was an Army helicopter pilot stationed in Northern Ireland, was the first official UK astronaut to reach space.

This most recent lift-off from Kazakhstan was particularly impressive, and there was added drama because the docking with the ISS did not go to plan, and the crew had to steer the spacecraft manually.

Some of the images have been truly wonderful, but as well as the greatly advanced technology, there was also the human dimension to consider.

It was particularly touching to see Tim Peake's family waving him off, and who will forget the sight of him waving to his wife and children, and also the huge pride of his parents watching their son at the start of his extraordinary adventure?

Even though we have witnessed many space adventures, what is it that continues to fire our imaginations as we watch these spectacles?

There is, of course, the brilliant engineering and technology that has made space travel possible, and also the bravery and character of the men and women who risk their lives in orbit.

This is an almost perfect example of the crucial interaction between human beings and highly advanced machines.

Such developments make us reflect yet again on the marvels of the universe, and even though we have learned a great deal in the past, we still know so little about it.

Its sheer vastness is apparent to every one of us when we lift up our eyes at night and look at the stars.

We try to take in the astonishing fact that some of our fellow human beings are not only up there, but are also circling our planet at astonishing speed.

It is no wonder that so many children still dream of being an astronaut, and how great it is that the current developments underlined by the latest launch are reminders that, for some children, their dream could some day become a reality.

The latest Star Wars mpvie seems destined to be a massive hit, but how greater still is the real thing, which is happening so far above our heads, but still close to our hearts?

Belfast Telegraph

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