I know that this is a weird thing for a space reporter to admit publicly, but here’s the truth: I’ve never had any desire to travel to space.
Let’s just say that I’ve seen one too many rockets explode to make me comfortable with flying up to space.
But I have to say, photos like this one, of an uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft approaching the International Space Station on April 22, make me rethink my hard-line stance against space travel.
It’s not that this picture is so much more fantastic than other photos taken from space. It’s that this image is so ordinary.
Clouds and light are constantly shifting on Earth as seen from space, plus astronauts in orbit get about 16 sunrises and sunsets per day. This means that if you fly to the Space Station, you’ll have the chance to see this kind of view (probably without the spacecraft in the middle of it) multiple times every 24 hours.
That’s unbelievably cool.
The funny thing is, however, even this photo represents the darker side of spaceflight in some way.
Another Cygnus spacecraft, which made it to the launch pad in 2014, was destroyed when the rocket carrying it exploded. Orbital ATK, the company that builds the Cygnus, has successfully sent other cargo ships to orbit in the three years since that accident, but the explosion represented a major setback for the private company.
But hey, at least they’re back in action and giving astronauts views like this one to send back home.