Perhaps the most fascinating among the videos trending now is the one of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) 20-minute documentary about the undocking, reentry and landing of the Soyuz capsule.
These 20 minutes encapsulate everything about the human endeavor, its grand ambitions, innovative brilliance, formidable courage, superb engineering and technological skills and above all its ceaseless sense of wonder.
Apart from the mission’s obvious grandness, I was yet again struck by the preponderance of technology in our life at every step of the way. Everything that you see in this video is a product of technology and engineering. From the buttons on the display panel inside the capsule to the spacesuits, from the solar panels of the International Space Station (ISS) to the parachutes that help the capsule descend as gently on Earth as possible and from the heat shield around the capsule to the seat belts and buckles, it is an extraordinary example of human ingenuity.
A view of the ISS from inside the Soyuz capsule
Having done these orbital sorties since 1998, ESA astronauts are accustomed to all the complex and potentially fatal maneuvers but there is no minimizing the inherent danger of what goes into these missions.
ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli
Apart from everything else, what I particularly like about this short documentary is the way one of the astronauts, Paolo Nespoli describes how gravity begins to affect them on reentry. “Gravity is a very strong force. We do not understand here on Earth how gravity has such a hold on our body and what is around us. You do feel it when you come from space because you have been in a no-gravity environment for a long time and you see all these forces grabbing you. You look at stuff. You feel your hands are heavy. Your watch weighs a ton…Your head is extremely heavy. It is really, really, really a very strong feeling,” Nespoli explains.
Even after discounting the fact that I am a lifelong space geek I would still strong recommend that children everywhere watch this video.