Fifty years since Sputnik
Everything changes, everything stays the same
Fifty years ago today the space age was truly born, as Sputnik sent back its first signals from orbit. Half a century ago, the Soviets launched what would be our first artificial satellite, and set in motion a revolution of technology.
Without Sputnik, Earth orbit would be a much quieter place, and life on Earth would be unrecognisable. Satellite technology is now integral to our lives. It carries the TV news we watch when we wake up in the morning, provides data for weather forecasters, carries phone calls, and even gets us to work, thanks to GPS. Satellites also handle data for our banks, processing credit card transactions. We are utterly dependent on the orbiting bodies.
"The civilisation we live in today is as different from the one that we lived in the mid-1950s as the mid-1950s were from the American revolution," American University public policy professor Howard McCurdy told the Associated Press. "It's hard to imagine these things happening without space. I guess I could have a computer, but I wouldn't be able to get on the internet."
Sputnik also triggered the space race of the 1960s, culminating in the Moon landing. It seems appropriate, in a sort of poetic way, that as Sputnik's half century rolls around we're all heading to the Moon again. Either poetic, or hopelessly depressing that in 50 years, humanity hasn't managed to move on very much at all, for all the little gizmos we have. ®
Us Russkies were first into space
I bet we can beat Yanks into hyperspace as well. :D
Moon landing idiotic conspiracy theories
Posted Thursday 4th October 2007 10:12 GMT
"Sputnik also triggered the space race of the 1960s, culminating in the Moon landing" are you suggesting that the us did actually land on the moon???
Well, yes. (This is in response to this message and all of the follow-up comments.)
Jodrell Bank tracked the mission all the way out and all the way back and had a precise fix on their position. Even if I didn't trust the Yanks, I trust Sir Bernard Lovell.
I forget which 70-year old astronaut it was who punched an idiotic conspiracy theorist in the teeth (Armstrong, Grissom?), but I'd like to add my weight to that punch.
In commemoration of the Sputnik launch, BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting a lot of interesting programmes.
and related links.
Every morning this week, there has been a serialised version of the book "Red Moon Rising" by Matthew Brzezinski, which is the story of Sputnik and America's response to it. The more I listen to this, the more I admire the Russkies. (Did you know that the chief designer came to the job after 10 years in the Gulag in Kolyma?)
Let's give credit where it is due. OK, the whole shooting match was an off-shoot of the Cold War, but both sides were brilliant in their way. (I'm pissed off with the way us Brits ducked out of it, though. Whatever happened to Jet Morgan?)
Now, let's get that permanent international Moon Base set up. Onward and upward!
So, we have the Russians to blame for Rupert Murdoch, eh?
I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.