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(Jon sez:)

Your Writer: Jon Kilgannon I have always been fascinated with space stations.

When I was a toddler, the Soviets put up the first trial-run space station, Salyut-1. It only stayed in orbit for a few months, then tumbled back into the atmosphere. The next couple of Soviet stations also spent only short periods in space. They weren't very good space stations, not being terribly stationary.

Then, when I was a kid, the American space station Skylab was in orbit. It was clunky, it had been damaged during liftoff, and it looked like it had been slapped together, but it was a real space station and it was beautiful. It stayed in orbit throughout most of the Seventies.

In 1986 the Soviets updated the Salyut series and put up Mir, which stayed in orbit throughout much of my adult life (it went into orbit when I was 17, and fell back to Earth last year). Mir was Soviet-clunky and prone to malfunction, but it heralded the future when American crewmembers started visiting the station in 1995.

The future was - and is - the International Space Station. It doesn't look much like the baroque spires and buttresses of Feynman Station, shown above, but it points the way.

Like I said, I have always been fascinated with space stations.

(Mark sez:)

Your Artist: Mark Sachs I get the feeling I should be putting more in this column besides peculiar non-sequiturs. Hmm.

Well, I can say that I didn't really intend to use a lot of fancy Photoshop effects in today's comic, honest. These things just sort of get away from me sometimes. I have these pretentions of imitating what I consider to be the pinnacle of black and white comic artwork (Adam Warren's Dirty Pair: Sim Hell, if you were curious) but they're just pretentions, honestly. Still, um, it really is kind of pretty in its own way, isn't it?