[FPSPACE] 51st anniversary of space age
kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Sat Oct 4 06:23:41 EDT 2008
FPSPACE, of all institutions, cannot let the 51st anniversary of
the Space Age go uncelebrated!
We let off with our daily disappointments and frustrations at the
slow, over-expensive, creeping pace of space exploration. So it's good
from time to time to take a step back, and review a decade, and a
We've a half-century of continuous exploration by satellites of
space science and our Earth. Modern life is inextricably woven into a
mesh of comsats, geodesic sats, & metsats.
This is the first century with unbroken human residency in space.
Even taking in good humour Dwayne Day's grumble about us only "going
around and round", this is still a milestone in human progress, even if
anti-climactic after Project Apollo.
Humankind has left Tsiokovsky's "cradle of mankind", and now at least
wanders all around the house.
Alongside technology progress, we now have organizational experience
in running what will become a series of permanent international space
stations, and eventually other outposts. These space partnerships have
built political & bureaucratic skill in outliving grandstanding
politicians on the ground (& not only in one country either). They also
build strength to outlive the inevitable economic recessions,
depressions, and other financial shocks that cyclically occur.
Most recently, Eldon Musk has matured ELV manufacture to its lowest
cost yet. For the logner term quantum leap, NASA and others episodically
pursue air-breathing engines and other RLV technology. All these deserve
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