Amazing “SCOOP” for the Community Centre!

On Sunday evening 10th July, I visited the Emsworth Community Centre with your Chairman Anne and about ten other Ems Valley members. The event was advertised as  the film “WONDERFUL: Stories from the  Space Station.” I was to witness a two hour film with a difference. A massive difference! Oh, and should I say, to meet the film director herself,  and the Astronaut who commanded the very first docking with the Space Station after his three other space flights in Atlantis, Discovery and Columbia. All this happened at EMSWORTH, and in our very own Community Centre!

How did it come about?

Clare Lewins,  a film director who resides in South Street (as well as London) frequents the Coal Exchange. So does Ian Treadgold and Brian Picknett, ECA film stalwart and ECA caretaker extraordinaire, respectively. Strange conversations take place in quintessential, salty watering holes.

One must have led to this memorable evening. Clare, of recent “I am Ali” fame, a film which we also need to see about Mohammad Ali, mentioned that Commander Bill Shepherd was coming over from the States and would be prepared to answer questions on the film, if the ECA were interested in showing it. The Centre moved very quickly and with minimum time for suitable advertising, very easily filled the Mountford room with 60 viewers.

When Clare was originally approached to make this film about life on the ISS (International Space Station) her first' first reaction was that she was "not a science-based person," but then she began looking into who had lived on the space station. She said in a recent interview  "That's what made the difference, actually," That, and a book I was reading at the time. Joseph Conrad's turn of the (20th) century novel "Lord Jim" which described ancient sailors voyaging off into the unknown, with an impulse in their blood to dream of the future! As Conrad wrote, 'They were wonderful... Clare  thought, 'That's it. That's the story.' Really, that's the film."


"The Wonderful: Stories from the Space Station" focuses on the lives of just a dozen international astronauts and cosmonauts who for a time called the International Space Station their home. From Bill Shepherd and his companions on that first mission, Russians Sergei Krikalev and Yuri

Gidzenalev, to Scott Kelly and Peggy Whitson, who set duration records during their time aboard the outpost, the two-hour film reveals the humanity behind all of the engineering and technology that made such a facility possible.

"From an early point, I thought, actually, I want to make the film about the people, not the 450 tons of spaceship, which, by the way, is amazing, but other films have done that," Clare said.

 Bill said that the Russian Orthodox priest insisted on soaking the astronauts with water before take-off!

One of the questions afterwards majored on whether Bill Shepherd had any thoughts on how the current crisis in Ukraine might affect the ISS programme. (he said we would have to wait!)

 The film also features Tim Peake from Westbourne.  Tim was a Flight Engineer on the 2015 Russian Soyuz spaceflight. On that occasion, The crew consisted of a Russian commander accompanied by American and British astronauts. That flight returned to Earth on June 18, 2016 after 185 days. In the film we saw Tim's wife and children at the launch site, Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Many of the launches were conducted from this site. More sobering times were related when the Challenger rocket failed in 1986, just 73 seconds into the flight, and the Columbia Capsule disintegrated on re-entry to earth in 2003. Both disasters resulted in the whole crew losing their lives. But as of April 2021, 244 individuals from 19 countries have visited the International Space Station. Top participating countries include the United States (153 people) and Russia (50 people). Normally a  crew of 6 astronauts live at the ISS and since November 2000 the station has been continuously occupied. Ideally, there are three people permanently on the station and the crew takes rotation to leave periodically. As the shuttle goes up, it has the capability to take a total of seven additional people, thus the ISS can have a maximum of ten people at a time when the shuttle is there.

We experienced a truly informative evening – Well Done the ECA - Community Centre 

Well done Clare Lewins - Film Director

Well done Commander Bill Shepherd!                                                                                                                          





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