We have drift off: Balloons to the edge of space
- 26 December 2011 by Michael Le Page
- Magazine issue 2844. Subscribe and save
- For similar stories, visit the Spaceflight and Christmas Science Topic Guides
"T minus 10 seconds."
Imagine you're a space tourist, preparing for lift-off. Yet rather than a deafening roar, followed by shaking and shuddering as the rocket engine fires up, you experience a serene stillness as the countdown continues.
"5, 4, 3, 2, 1..." And you're away. You are pressed into your seat as the spacecraft ascends into the sky. But it's a gentle push, not a blood-draining, face-distorting squeeze. And apart from the voices of the pilots beside you and the rush of air around the capsule, there is only silence. Outside, the darkening sky outlines the steadily growing curvature of the Earth. Before long, the sky is completely black, while the planet below has turned blue. You have reached the edge of space, and there's not a rocket in sight.
Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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