You may have followed the current space flight, which left earth on June 7 from Kazakhstan. The spacecraft Soyuz was launched with 3 astronauts, a Russian, a Japanese and an American by the name of Mike Fossum.
The mission is to rendezvous with the space station and relieve the crew that has been orbiting for some 6 months. Their anticipated stay in space will also be about 6 months.
Mike Fossum happens to be a long-term reader of this blog and newsletter and is also a client. Before his departure, we discussed his adventure in space, and he assured me that he will have regular email access and will be able to send and receive email 3 times daily. As his time allows, he will be reading my musings about ETFs in outer space.
I got a brief note from him on Friday, after he had arrived at the space station, which said:
I don’t have time to tell about the flight up, but want to tell one very quick story.
In order for the Soyuz to keep its solar arrays pointed to the sun as economically as possible (i.e., not burning fuel), we point the arrays at the sun and put the vehicle in a spin at a rate of one rotation every 2.5 minutes. This might be great for keeping arrays pointed, but it makes for some pretty tough Earth viewing. It really seemed like we were cart wheeling around the planet. You’d be heads down for a view of the earth, much like a child might view a patch of ground for a few moments, before rotating away to look at deep space, then back again. I stared out the small window for hours usually looking at ocean or clouds. When I saw rare patches of ground, I wasn’t able to identify the location. At the end of the first day, I finally hit pay dirt. Or rather, saw it. There was a heavy bank of clouds to the west of a range of coastal mountains obscuring the coast. But in the arid lands on the eastern side I was shocked to recognize a series of dry lakebeds and there before me was Rogers Dry Lake and Edwards Air Force Base with its runways and little patch of green housing area clearly visible. How appropriate the first place I recognized from space was the first place I learned to recognize from the air – the place where I got my fortuitous start in the flying business many years ago.
I consider Mike now my most distant client.
The picture shows the Soyuz spacecraft (click to enlarge)