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Monday, June 17, 2019


by Martin Elster

One day soon, you won't need to be a member of the traditional astronaut corps to visit the International Space Station. But you – or your corporate sponsors – will need very deep pockets. "We are announcing the ability for private astronauts to visit the space station on U.S. vehicles and for companies to engage in commercial profit-making activities," said Jeff DeWit, NASA's chief financial advisor, at a launch event held Friday in at NASDAQ headquarters in New York. Up to two private astronauts – who must meet the same physical requirements as any other NASA astronaut – will be allowed to fly per year and work on behalf of companies. Each seat is expected to cost more than $50 million and the first could launch as soon as 2020. —USA Today, June 7, 2019

Far higher than the vultures, cranes and bats
that soar as in some reverie or dream,
for loads of dough, you ride inside the cream
of satellites, race round a world of rats
and angels locking horns like dogs and cats,
observe vast oceans glisten, cities beam,
and feel about to hurl. You start to deem
the whirling washers in the laundromats
of Earth remarkably serene. Somewhat
emboldened by the expedition crew,
you try to take deep breaths. Yet, truth be told,
what’s really making you a sickly sot
are all the greenbacks you’ve just spent, your hue
now paler than a wilting marigold.

Martin Elster serves as percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Honors include co-winner of Rhymezone’s 2016 poetry contest, winner of the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition 2014, third place in the SFPA’s 2015 poetry contest, and three Pushcart nominations.