IN OTHER WORDS: Sea and space

There’s no place like terra firma. The US astronauts who roared down from space on August 9, and the Russian submarine crew that rose from the black depths of the Pacific on Sunday, would probably agree on that. A person who has never gone 225 miles from Earth, or deep 625 feet below the surface of the ocean might have trouble deciding which adventure would be more nerve-racking. The mini-submarine AS-28 Priz, immobilised by fishing net and cable, might gain the edge with its tomb-like quarters and grim certainty of a dwindling air supply. Life in these claustrophobia-inducing naval vessels is tough. That world has none of the presumed familiarity one can feel on the NASA website, or when looking at spectacular photos of space walks. One can imagine the tension of men shivering together last week, breathing lightly to conserve oxygen in the dank craft as the temperature dropped to 40 degrees. The NASA mission had more of a handyman feel as astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Stephen Robinson tested a crack-caulking compound. They looked vulnerable out there. While the seven-crew members were not facing the immediate threat faced by their seven underwater counterparts, their lives were on the line from lift off to landing — and both sub and shuttle lived with the nightmares of recent history. — The Boston Globe