April 12, 2008

47 Years



47 years ago a human being first entered Earth orbit.

In 8 years the human race went from one low furtive orbit to landing on another celestial body. The difference between the low orbits of Vostok and Mercury and what  was required to get to the moon was vast. The difference in energy between getting to the Moon and getting to Mars, Ceres, or any of the other worlds this side of Jupiter is actually quite small. The solar system was open planets and moons beckoned and the future seemed to have arrived!

Now, 47 years after one man wen where no one had ever gone before we have, instead of SIX FLAGS ON THE MOON...six flags...on the moon. surrounded by the footprints of the only twelve to walk on its surface.

47 years later we do send several people a year into space. They are confined to low earth orbit just as Gagarin was. there are plans to return, but it is pointed out that it will take more than a decade more to do what was done in 8 years from scratch 39 years ago.

  In 1968, Hollywood imagined the year 2001 to be one of casual space travel with huge moon cities, massive Space stations and the ability to send people as far afield as Jupiter. Given the rate of progress to that point this was seen as utterly reasonable. And yet....


The reason often given is that we have too many problems here.

That was the reason given by the bureaucrats of the Ming Dynasty when they decommissioned  Zheng Hu's treasure fleet  which had massively stimulated trade commerce and cultural exchange. The results of that unenlightened decision were rather unfortunate for the nation whose bureaucrats made it but it consolidated their power in the short span of their petty, venal lives so they no doubt thought it was a wise move.

A rather more eloquent set of refutations for this sad attempt at an argument can be found here.



 With that in mind, tonight we reject these visionless Mandarins as people all over the world celebrate the first instance of a human leaving out atmosphere and entering orbit.

  As an added bonus, he future has been long in coming, but its finally getting here.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:43 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 Actually, there's a much more practical reason why so few humans have gone into space: advances in computer technology have meant that anything humans could do in space can be done faster, cheaper, better, and safer using machines.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sun Apr 13 10:09:16 2008 (+rSRq)

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