In honor of today being the 11th, and Apollo 11 being the first spacecraft to get humans to the moon, Roof Pig presents this stunning story from Radiolab. Investigating the topic of speed, the Radiolab dudes interview an astronaut whose first space outing is on the space station Mir and has the most harrowing possible experience: after he and his Russian partner finished their work, they find they’re locked out of the ship, as the airlock has failed. They work for hours to fix it and are moments away from being boiled alive in their suits when they figure out another away into the ship.
But that’s not the most mindblowing part of the story. To do the repairs on the outside of the ship, he’s tethered to the ship, which is moving at 5 miles per second, so he’s being cycled in and out of Earth’s day and night every 45 minutes, from the instant blaze of sunrise to the immediate blackness of night. As they cycle into the sunrise, the heat immediately jumps 400 degrees and they are plunged into pure light; next they slide into sheer darkness. While completing routine maintenance tasks on the ship’s exterior, they experience the endings and beginnings of 16 Earth days. Take 20 minutes and listen to this story; you will not regret it and you will likely never forget it.