Going Home

EarthWhen a frontier feels like home, it is no longer a frontier; it has become “civilization.” Those determined to wander must now pack their bags and move further into the cosmos.

Space Station is very much on the frontier. It is only my temporary home, and now it is time for me to venture back to my real home. For my generation, Earth is, and will remain, home. The technology for space travel is still in the process of development, and is not sufficiently mature to open this frontier to humanity. We are not prepared to call space our home — yet.

On Earth, the frontiers opened slowly. The technology of sailing was known and advanced for over a thousand years before the Earth was circumnavigated. Such bold acts require the technology, the will, and the audacity to explore. Sometimes you have one, but not the others.

I only hope that my small efforts here, perhaps adding one grain of sand to the beach of knowledge, will help enable a generation of people in the future to call space “home.”

Last Day in Space

Tomorrow we light our rocket,
          we burn our engines and likewise,
                   burn a hole in the sky,
                             And thus fall toEarth.
How does one spend your last day in space?
          Looking at Earth,
                   a blue jewel surrounded by inky blackness,
                             Pure Occipital Ecstasy.
Unconstrained by your girth,
          you fly with vestigial wings.
The atmosphere on edge,
          iridescent blue with no earthly parallel,
                   Electrifying Diaphanous Beauty.
Guarded by Sirens of Space,
          singing saccharine songs,
                   beckoning you to crash on the atmos-reef
which tears you limb from limb
                   andscorching what remains
                            into cosmic croutons that sprinkle onto
                                       the garden salad of Earth.
One last feast out the window,
          A looking glass of Wonderland.
Offering both a portal to see your world,
                   and a translucent reflection to see yourself.
          what is your place in this worldbelow,
                   how do you change it,
                             how does it change you.
We are wedded to this planet,
          until mass extinction we do part.
                   Perhaps one planet is not enough.
You study your charts,
          we prepare our spaceship,
                   and our minds.
We make ready our descent,
          into these seemingly gentle arms.
The eager anticipation of hugging your wife,
          your boys with grins followed by pouting faces,
                   both excited to see you but not understanding why you left.
Oh how does one spend your last day in Space.
          What would you do?

Don Pettit
Node 2, Deck 5
ISS, LEO 51.603

Don’s blog also appears at airspacemag.com.

33 thoughts on “Going Home”

  1. I have really enjoyed your blog posts! I’m sure you’re excited to be coming back home. I’ll definitely miss hearing about you and the zucchini’s adventures on the ISS 🙂

    I’m sure your time on the ISS has been incredible! Both for yourself and for future generations. Your generation may continue to call Earth home, but I’m hoping mine won’t 😉 I’d so very much love to be among those who explore deeper into the space frontier. Thanks for the time and knowledge you’ve put into this experience, and for sharing it with all of us.

  2. Hello Don;

    I’m one of those space lovers who is’nt sure to have the chance to travel to the space but is lucky enough to watch it trough astronauts’ eyes, thougts, and feelings like you. I love your ‘Last Day in Space’. I’d picture it in my heart and say good bye.

  3. Dear Don;

    I’m one of those space lovers who isn’t sure to have the chance to travel to the space but is lucky enough to feel it closely through astronauts’ eyes, thoughts, and feelings like you. I love your ‘Last Day in Space’. I’d picture it in my heart and say goodbye.

  4. I would say “bye bye” to Star Man (Jeff Bridges).

    I would fly like a hornet, a butterfly, a dragonfly, a colibri a starling, a swift, a fulmar.

    I would be a little owl who makes a wink to the moon.

    I would say to Earth ” I’m coming”

    I would be delighted to roll myself on the fields of green grass and trees as a little dog.

    For sure I would be delighted to eat the green nature “as a exquisite salade”.

    I would be delighted to swim as free as a nymph in a river.

    I would be delighted to ride with my Triumph Bonneville.

    Vive la liberté!

  5. Thank you, Don. The moments when astronauts seek to impart what you can see are some of NASA’s best. Having caught ISS 3 times by naked eye I can only imagine how it looks in reverse. Cameras will give us images … you give us feeling. Safe travel.
    /Barry Stevens
    Virginia Beach VA

  6. Don,
    It’s been a pleasure reading your blogs, watching you work during ISS Update hour as well as your science off the sphere videos, and seeing every picture you post. I hope you stick around NASA for a long time and keep up your efforts to inspire everyone with science. I have enjoyed learning a great deal about the ISS and living in space over the last 6 months because of all your posts. Thank you.

  7. Good luck and godspeed Don Pettit on your way home to us earthlings. Enjoy your last moments of micro-G.

  8. Bravo!

    Oh how I will miss your wit, poetry, philosophies, passion for life and constant curiosity. You have done more for me these past six months, re-igniting my love and science and space, than anyone or any thing. I lost my husband a year ago to cancer, you see, and have been wondering aimlessly, looking for the perfect distraction.

    I questioned alot of things this past year, but always found myself looking upwards. I discovered astronauts on Twitter about the same time I realized my satellite television carrier includes the NASA channel!

    You have beamed into my house every week, practically every day, for several months. My nephew and i watch “Science off the sphere” episodes. I read Astro-Zuc’s updates faithfully.

    Tonight, the ISS will be passing over my house, while you are on board, one more time. I will look up at the sky, and wish you all the best, and a happy reunion with your family, back on planet Earth, where ironically, I now won’t see you.

    Thank you thank you thank you, Don Pettit, for the time you served us, and for sharing your infectious love of science and space –you have gifted me with the fever, and I’m so glad!

    Please, please hug your wife and sons for me,too, and thank them profusely. I’m so grateful for their sacrifice of your time and presence. You and yours will always be in my prayers.

    Namaste, til we meet again~
    Rhonda (xoxoroo on twitter) ~:)

  9. Beautiful words as ever Don. Thank you! How ever you spend it, enjoy your last day in space and have safe trip back home, into the arms of your beloved family.

  10. Thanks Don for sharing this poem.
    Also thanks for sharing your experiences in space and the photo’s.
    Have a safe journey back to our planet.

  11. I grew up under Gemini and Apollo. This is powerful.I’m glad it hasn’t become routine. I’m

  12. Once, I was there at one of your talks. It was an amazing talk where, notably, you presented your vision of the frontiers and how you behave in front of them. It changed my life. I thank you for that and I like to read here, still and again, the same definition and commitment of your frontiers.

    I wish you’ll go on exploring frontiers and that you’ll have fun in it.
    Thank you.

  13. If it was my last day on the ISS I would:

    Choose to spend a few moments expanding my awareness of my place in the universe by realizing my contributions to constant improvement of mankind’s advancement.

    Remember I have created history and will be remembered long after becoming stardust once again.

    Focus and concentrate imagining myself being succombed to the lovely force of stronger gravity, (and balancing myself accordingly.)

    Leave a few fun things to find.

  14. A lovely poem and parting gift from you, Don: engineer, scientist, explorer, poet, Gardener. Safe travels home.

  15. Hi, Don;

    Very nice words!

    I tried to make connection over APRS today three times, to no apparent avail during ISS passes over Corvallis. I had a message that I worked with Tom at HP 🙂 Oh, well, I guess my 5 watt HT and Yagi are not enough to break through the rainy skies today, or I am doing something wrong in my setup, which works fine for reporting my APRS position.

    Best wishes and thanks for your service!


  16. I would try to open my eyes so wide that they could swolow the whole mystery of it all and bring it back to earth with with me to share like you have.

    Thanks Don, there should be more poets in space. Your blog is the best from the ISS yet, bless you and safe journey home 🙂

  17. Dear Don,

    I’ve just listened that you are safe and on the way to Houston. Good!

    I would like to thank you for having shared your blog with all of us.
    It has been an adventure!!!! I have appreciated a lot the way you are,… authentic!

    When Soyuz touched down Earth, and I saw you, an your crew emerging from the capsule, I’ve been very touched.

    Don, you felt very dizzy, however, I don’t know if I’m wrong, but I’ve had the feeling that for a few fractions of seconds your “influx” (strength) expressed :

    “- I’m ok, I can move by myself”!

    This image put me a smile on my face.

    Don, I wish you “une bonne récupération”. Enjoy life all you can!!and all my best for your future.

    I will never forget you and also your experience.

    Take care of you et “Merci”!

    A wink from Luna (“the Moon”) to you.

  18. Nice to know that some of our genius astronauts are also great poets. Thank you for spending your time and knowledge for our future.

  19. i often wish they had sent Ginsberg to the moon. Along with the cartons of rocks and experiments, the changed human mind is also a valuable possession, especially when it is capable of sublime expression.

    Thanks for this poem, keep them flowin’.

    is life
    out through the fire-door
    in pyjamas
    to space walk on the rosary
    of jettisoned rocket stages
    piping the paralysing ricochet
    of radio beamed thoughts
    to star afar: who am I?
    who is there?
    who is breathing in the dark?

  20. Hi Don. Your poem was very inspiring to read. Welcome home! Theresa

  21. I was born to soon!

    I was born to early in life. it was 1961 and as I turn 51 this year i still am a kid at heart with a thirst for space, i know i will not live long enough to realize humanities progression into the cosmos, such as deep space travel, faster than light speed travel, etc., etc., but maybe my grand children or great grand children will. I am so hooked on TV shows as “star trek” “star trek” The Next Generation, “star trek” voyager and others. Knowing well that its just fantasy I still lose myself in those shows and wonder if we will ever get that far, not so much the space travel but the way humanity changes from war, poverty, starvation, the need to have lots of money, etc,. to just the need to better ones self and helping others to do the same. I may never know! I wonder what it will be like in 200 to 300 hundred years from now? I can only hope that we have the good sense to better our selves.

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