Fireflies in the night

The Earth at night looks even more magical than it does during the day. There is always a storm happening somewhere. Flashes of lightning sometimes cover up to a fourth of a continent. At first you see this as a natural disturbance, the eruption of splashes as a majestic spectacle. Aboard the spacecraft it's quiet. The peals of thunder cannot be heard, the gusts of wind cannot be felt, and it seems as if everything is calm, simply a play of light. All of a sudden, against your will, you imagine that the lightning comes not from a natural storm, but from the explosions of bombs. No. This must never occur. Let only the northern lights and lightning blaze above our precious Earth.

Vladimir Shatalov

Fireflies in the night.
The peace and tranquility
of Earth from orbit
the awesome silence
the awesome sights
the feeling of oneness
the feeling of achievement
the scars of national boundaries gone

"That's it," says my Russian comrade "Orbital insertion completed. Three-hundred kilometer apogee. A short three-hour trip to put up the communications satellite." A toothy grin, and then, "Hope this goes quickly. I'm hungry."

Terminator the line between light and dark it's sunrise over Bangkok Greetings to Thailand With one orbit every ninety minutes it's a quick greeting The Earth is so small

My good Russian comrade leans over and says to me in his broken English, "You know, I love space. Not only does one again learn how to look, but one again learns how to see . . ."

Racing madly at Mach 23 Baja, California comes into view My mind wanders and my thoughts drift to a small house in Wyoming and my wife and daughter My thoughts are locked on them and America drifts slowly away toward the horizon Mother Russia comes up fast

"Something strange over Colorado," whispers my Russian friend to me looking back, eyes wide

Sure enough, something strange Tiny fireflies rising to kiss the sky shrugging off their mortal coils

"And over Siberia. Oh my God," he breathes

Fireflies in the night Which lift higher and higher and then arc and then fall back Mutually assured destruction

"No," repeats the Russian over and over, "No."

My wife My children "Vladimir, my friend," I say slowly, "This is our home now."

1992 November 10

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