My father has always had a keen interest in space travel, sci-fi and all things that go with it (he’s an engineer so it seems only right that he should). As such from a very young age I have also had a keen interest in space, with father son time being set aside to watch Star Wars, Forbidden Planet or 2001. If you’ve never watched Kubrick’s masterpiece do it - now, this evening, or as soon as possible - or even better - I believe it will be coming to a cinema near you soon in celebration of the remastered release. Anyway I’ve deviated wildly, the point I’m trying to make is I’m a keen space exploration enthusiast.

Great Lakes from the International Space Station 2013-03-15

So as I was listening to the great “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” written and read by Chris Hadfield - without doubt the most entertaining and influential man in the field of space exploration - it occurred to me there was something similar about his space blindness situation, but it didn’t click.

I then went on to watch his TED talk, which touched upon the same topic.

That’s when it clicked, his experience of space blindness, while not identical is pretty similar to that of Mike Collins (yet another pioneer of space travel, and the oft unmentioned third member of the moon landing team, alongside Armstrong and Aldrin - due to the fact he was required to man the shuttle). In his book “Carrying the Fire” Collins mentions whilst on EVA from Gemini 10 he experiences problems with a new addition to the equipment list; an anti-fog compound (pg 222). This sounds like the same compound used by Hadfield, but if not is certainly a pretty similar situation.

Which has to lead to the question of why they weren’t using “No more tears” for the visors from 1966 onwards. As it happens Hadfield was able to complete the EVA successfully in spite of this problem, but it could have just prevented some unnecessary pain & stress.

Chris Hadfield talks about how important the focus required to fly the very old T-38’s is for learning to fly. Mike Collins also talks about the T-38 “the air force’s most modern jet trainer” which “must keep flying, just as the salmon keep swimming”, so I’m sure he’d be pleased to hear they have continued to be so important.

Further reading:

I also have one further recommendation to add to this list, which is the documentary film in the shadow of the moon which is available to watch on demand on Channel 4.