The Cupola

In the sky is a castle, built in free fall, brick-by-brick, where the sun rises and sets every ninety minutes. The castle derives its energy from sunlight and recycles its water. Sealed against a vacuum, its inhabitants float and glide through its passageways and gaze down at Earth through its expansive cupola.

In an earlier age, the castle would be the magic of legend, but in ours, it’s the International Space Station. Assembled in low Earth orbit, its unique microgravity laboratories are powered by giant solar electric panels that rotate like windmills to track the sun. Arguably the most complex engineering project ever accomplished, the ISS is a model for international cooperation, where former cold-war enemies live and work together.

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson gazes down at Earth from the cupola onboard the International Space Station

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson gazes down at Earth from the International Space Station’s cupola

About John F. Lindner

John F. Lindner was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and educated at the University of Vermont and Caltech. He is an emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at The College of Wooster and a visiting professor at North Carolina State University. He has enjoyed multiple yearlong sabbaticals at Georgia Tech, University of Portland, University of Hawai'i, and NCSU. His research interests include nonlinear dynamics, celestial mechanics, and neural networks.
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