Russian astronaut Valeri Polykov, who holds the record for the longest spaceflight yet of any human in history, has passed away at the age of 80.
In 1994 and 1995 Polykov spent 437 days on Russia’s space station Mir, the equivalent of fourteen months and two weeks. His thoughts at launch, as he told me personally when I interviewed him while writing Leaving Earth, were not so confident:
“What if something goes wrong?” [he explained]. “I had sacrificed so much time. The government has spent so much, more than they can afford. And I’ve learned so much for them myself, for them.
“Better I die if something went wrong,” he thought. “Better if I had a gun to shoot myself.”
Nothing went wrong however. Polykov, a doctor, had pushed for this long mission to find out if it would be possible for a person to function after a year-plus of weightlessness upon arrival on Mars. Originally planned to last 18 months, circumstances eventually shortened it to 14 months-plus. When Polykov came home in March 1995, he managed to walk a few steps on his own, shortly after being removed from the capsule. To his mind, he had proved that a person could function on their own on Mars after such a long flight.
Others disagreed. As I wrote in Leaving Earth, though he was almost normal within a week of landing,
Polykov had come back to Earth very weak. For at least those first few hours, he needed help from those around him. Any spacefarer arriving on Mars after a year in space must be prepared to face that same challenge.
Regardless, Polykov, like Brian Binnie, was one of the early giants in space exploration. His contribution must not be forgotten.
Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!
From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space
, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.
does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.
“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.
All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.
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