7Burn Down the Sky
This is the Saturn V rocket, carrying the Apollo 11 moon mission:
This is the Discovery launch:
This is the Athena II:
These images bring up an important question: At what point did we forget that the Space Shuttle was, essentially, a program that strapped human beings to an explosion and tried to stab through the sky with fire and math? How jaded do we have to be to lose collective interest in that? We celebrate the 4th of July every year, all across the nation. If explosions are that important to us, why don't we just channel a third of our yearly fireworks budget into one big bastard of a shot -- one mad, screaming, man-made asteroid hurled right back up into the face of nature, just to prove to the bitch that she doesn't have a lock on that kind of thing?
The Endeavour, mankind's polite rebuttal to the meteor strike.
With most photographs being taken in the contextless void, it's easy to forget that astronauts are just human beings wrapped up in fancy clothes, floating miles up in the air, surrounded on all sides by a lethal nothing. And then you see an image like this:
An image that really drives home the fact that these are people -- tiny, fragile beings that die if they swallow a pretzel wrong or slip in the shower -- and they're existing so far removed from the planet they could be saying, "Oh excuse me, New Zealand, I didn't see you there."
Space is a vast and frightening thing; it is an extreme and murderous absence; it's the closest physical metaphor for the disturbing unknowns that follow death; space is a villain from a children's book -- it's the Nothing from The NeverEnding Story. And now, here's Bruce McCandless, an astronaut on the Challenger, taking the first untethered spacewalk.
He had no ties to any earthly bond whatsoever, he was hundreds of miles beyond the point where the sky gives up, and he said, "No, thank you," to a lifeline, then went for a bit of a constitutional ... into the abyss.