Friday, November 21, 2008

Droubble: Vertigo


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying freefall is a picnic. Any EVA has its own risks and dangers; no suit jockey got into the job for the retirement plan. But comparatively speaking, freefall is easy.

It’s a little harder under thrust. At full burn, it’s like working on the side of a skyscraper – one with no ground under it.

But it’s the worst under spin. A gee of centrifugal acceleration is fine inside, where down is nice solid hull. Out here, that hull’s above you, and down is stars, all the way round the spindle. Even for a dyed-in-the-wool spacer, dangling over that kind of abyss sets off some major instinctual red lights.

The trick is to focus on your work. Your suit’s magnetic holdfasts do the real work of holding on.

That is, unless you get careless, move too fast. Keep three of your four magnets on ship whenever you’re moving around. Every old hand knows that.

Doesn’t mean an old hand can’t get sloppy, and here I dangle at the end of my safety line. It takes all my concentration to not look down while I wait for my crew to haul me down.

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