Spaceflight Now: Space Station/STS-98

Station skipper writes poem to usher in the new year
Posted: December 31, 2000

The international space station's Exedition One commander, Bill Shepherd, has written a poem capturing his thoughts and reflections, as he and Russian shipmates, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, usher in 2001.

Shepherd, a U.S. Navy Captain, followed the Naval New Year's tradition for the person on duty at the helm of a ship to provide an entry into the ship's log at the turn of the New Year.

Shepherd wrote the following:

"In longstanding naval tradition, the first entry in a ship's log for the New Year is always recorded in prose. We would like to share with all, the entry being made in the log tonight as 'Alpha' salutes the New Year" --

SHIP'S LOG 0000 01 JAN 2001
We sail onboard space station "Alpha"
Orbiting high above Earth, still in night
Traveling our destined journey
beyond realm of sea voyage or flight

A first New Year is upon us
Eight strikes on the bell now as one
The globe spins below on its motion
Counting the last thousand years done.

15 midnights to this night in orbit
A clockwork not of earthly pace
Our day with different meaning now
In this, a new age and place

We move with a speed and time
Past that which human hands can tell
Computers programmed-like boxes
Where only thoughts' shadows dwell

"Central post" our ship's bridge aboard
Screens dancing shapes in pale glow
We guide her course by electronic pulse
In figures no compass could show

Our panels set as sails to the Sun
With wake not ever seen but there
Only gyros feel the silent tugs
Wisps, swirls of such ocean rare

On this ship's deck sits no helm now
Rudder, sheet, and rig long since gone
But here still-- a pull to go places
Beyond lines where sky meets the dawn

Though star trackers mark Altair and Vega
Same as mariners eyed long ago
We are still as wayfinders of knowledge
Seeking new things that mankind shall know.

We commend to crews that will follow
Merit of the good ship we sail
Let Sun shine strong on Alpha's wings
A symbol, and bright star we long hail.

Video vault
The international space station crew addresses the people of planet Earth in a New Year's message.
  PLAY (354k, 59sec QuickTime file)

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