If you need a break today, you should read this poem  by G. Landis published recently in the Starship Century Book. Truly inspiring!

Pioneer 10 or Pioneer 11 spacecraft in the outer Solar System (credit: Don Davis)

Across the Dark, the Pioneers

Geoffrey A. Landis

The ships first sent across the dark ocean,

pebbles flung into the universe vast,

rocket-propelled, a flash of motion

past Jupiter, Saturn, the Kuiper cloud:

they glide outward to the stars

now silent, dead, pitted by dust

a voyage of a hundred thousand years:

the Voyagers and Pioneers.

The next probes sent out across the dark

the swiftest ships yet made by man

ion-engined craft, faster by far

with nuclear reactors making power

speed past the planets, and brave the dark

and distant silence between the stars;

and dwindling in their rear-view mirrors:

the Earth, the sun, and Pioneers.

The light-sail probes soon follow on

huge sails that dive down toward the sun

and outward thrust by just the force of light.

They need no fuel to challenge the sea of the night.

The mirrors reflect the dwindling sun

pass past all planets, one by one

they see reflected in their vast mirrors

the silent coasting Pioneers.

And faster sails, faster far,

pushed not by light from our feeble star

but focused beams of laser light;

or pushed by microwaves in flight

pass the ion-engine ships.

prior sails reflecting now but dark

“They’ll leave behind in their rear-view mirrors

Earth, the sun, and Pioneers.

Then fusion probes, massive and fast

with exhaust bright as a thousand suns

flickering diamonds in the sky

dwindle in the darkness as they fly

past sail ships already on the way

past the laser craft launched after

and far away, left in the rear

the Earth, the sun, and Pioneers.

And we wait at home, listening intent

for messages from the probes we’ve sent

signals nearly too faint for us to hear

attenuated by transit across light years

the first to reach a distant sun

that tells of wondrous worlds unknown,

the glory reflected in distant mirrors

the voyage begun with Pioneers.

And so we fly, through centuries

faster and farther across the emptiness;

we send out probes, our robot selves

On voyages of decades across the darkness

and dream one day humans too will go

the ultimate voyage, which has no end.

Behind us, in our rear-view mirrors

we’ll see the sun, and Pioneers”

Excerpt From: Davies, Paul. “Starship Century.” Microwave Sciences. iBooks.The book is available here http://www.starshipcentury.com/purchase/

This material is protected by copyright but I have permission  to re-print the poem in my blog  from both the author as well as the publisher (Jim Benford). Thanks!

Clear Skies,

Franck M.

Comments (1)

  1. Franck,

    I did that Pioneer 10 painting as a NASA illustration for NASA Ames. I heard on the TV news program Nightline that Pioneer 10 would obtain a last image of the Sun as it crossed Neptune’s orbit. This turned out to be false and I resolved to do an accurate painting of the sight. I talked NASA Ames Public Affairs into commissioning the acrylic painting, and got info from their NAV people on the starfield as well as the planets locations near the Sun at that time. The result is a detailed view of the Solar neighborhood as seen from the spacecraft at that milestone in its long journey.
    Like the Pioneers, this painting keeps going and going. I just wanted its attribution on record.

    Don Davis

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