Ordeal in Space

"Ordeal in Space" is a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein, originally published in Town & Country, May 1948. It is one of Heinlein's Future History stories and appears in his collection, The Green Hills of Earth.

A spaceship's crewman is called to repair an antenna while his ship is still under spin. He is unable to hold on, despite supreme effort; he drifts away from the ship and has far too much time to ponder things. When he returns to Earth, he is unable to work as a spaceman, and has a fear of heights. After living in fear and sadness for a time, he must face his troubles while rescuing a kitten stuck on the 35th-floor ledge of a building.

Heinlein includes a variant verse to the hymn Eternal Father, Strong to Save, dedicated "to those who venture into space," in the story.

Originally titled "Broken Wings", the story was rejected by The Saturday Evening Post.

A reading of this story was broadcast on BBC Radio 7 on June 15, 2009.

Robert A. Heinlein's Future History
Collections
  • The Past Through Tomorrow
  • The Man Who Sold the Moon
  • The Green Hills of Earth
  • Orphans of the Sky
  • Revolt in 2100
  • The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein
  • Expanded Universe
Short
stories
  • "Life-Line"
  • "Let There Be Light"
  • "The Roads Must Roll"
  • "Blowups Happen"
  • "The Man Who Sold the Moon"
  • "Delilah and the Space Rigger"
  • "Space Jockey"
  • "Requiem"
  • "The Long Watch"
  • "Gentlemen, Be Seated!"
  • "The Black Pits of Luna"
  • "It's Great to Be Back!"
  • "—We Also Walk Dogs"
  • "Searchlight"
  • "Ordeal in Space"
  • "The Green Hills of Earth"
  • "Logic of Empire"
  • "The Menace from Earth"
  • "If This Goes On—"
  • "Coventry"
  • "Misfit"
  • "Universe"
  • "Common Sense"
Novels
  • Methuselah's Children
  • Time Enough for Love
  • To Sail Beyond the Sunset
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  • The Number of the Beast


Famous quotes containing the words space and/or ordeal:

    In bourgeois society, the French and the industrial revolution transformed the authorization of political space. The political revolution put an end to the formalized hierarchy of the ancien regimé.... Concurrently, the industrial revolution subverted the social hierarchy upon which the old political space was based. It transformed the experience of society from one of vertical hierarchy to one of horizontal class stratification.
    Donald M. Lowe, U.S. historian, educator. History of Bourgeois Perception, ch. 4, University of Chicago Press (1982)

    They who aspire to love worthily, subject themselves to an ordeal more rigid than any other.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)