Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Former US Navy captain Scott Kelly may be an astronaut as per NASA’s official records but for many all across the world he has already qualified for the title of a thorough gentleman. The world recognizes him as a genuine global citizen. And not only that, he is probably the most valuable asset to the world of science. This article should have been written by the end of September to mark the completion of six months of the One-Year in Space mission to the International Space Station. The writing of this article got delayed because the continuous flow of new information from the space station. Finally, I thought that this flow might not stop so I should better finish writing the article before it’s too late. Since the launch of Mission 43 Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikanour, Kazakhstan last March, I have been receiving weekly updates from Shannon Hartman updating me about the activities aboard the International Space Station. For the information of the readers, mission 43 took some astronauts to the space station and among them are the One-Year In Space crew, American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Komeinko. During the launch, I was at the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson’s Space Center in Houston. Just as I started to write the article, I planned to contact Scott Kelly to ask a question about an experiment being carried out on the space station. But I learned that he and flight engineer Kjell Lindgren are busy preparing for two spacewalks on Oct. 28 and Nov. 6. So I started looking at old posts and photos taken by Kelly, which were mainly taken from the Cupola, which is an observatory module of the space station. Its seven windows are used to conduct experiment, dockings and observations of Earth. When astronauts are in space, they look at the planet as one single entity with no borders dividing countries. People living on this planet become members of one big family living together and the differences based on color, creed and nationality become invisible. The stunning beauty of our planet in pictures we receive from the International Space Station leave us speechless. We see how beautiful our planet is and how important it is for us humans to appreciate it. Earth is but a tiny speck in this limitless universe. It is the only place where human beings can survive. There is no other planet (so far) that could support human life. So, it is not worth fighting over petty issues on this planet. We need to keep in mind that we have no other place to go. There are enough natural resources for all of us to share and live in peace and harmony. Instead of fighting over natural resources like flowing rivers, vast deserts, high mountains and beautiful cities etc, we should try to enjoy all the natural beauty together and use all these resources for our common good. We on Planet Earth are not doing enough to preserve the riches of our planet. We continue to pollute waters and destroy forests at a time when we see many places are simply going dry and barren. It is true that the One-Year Mission and the experiments being carried out at the space station is a giant step in our search for other planets but we should not destroy the one we are living in. Kelly’s return to earth in a few months will open many doors for the world’s scientists after the unprecedented Twin Experiment (Scott and Mark Kelly) to see the effects of long-term space flight on the human body. At the end, it is very important to show our appreciation for all astronauts and scientists who have spent time and efforts to help advance things that make life easier on our planet. We have seen for the first time astronauts grow plants in zero gravity in a step that can further enhance more productive growth of crops on earth and there are many crucial efforts to help this planet to use water in the most efficient way. Planet Earth is everybody’s planet. Let us keep it safe and clean. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Save Earth: We Have Nowhere Else To Go reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.