And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Space Age Turns 50!

On this day, 50 years ago, the Russians launched the space age by orbiting Sputnik (NASA, Wiki) and also sparked the "our scientists are better than your scientists" rivalry that was a side skirmish in the Cold War. Recently moved in to the world spot light, the original scientist are speaking about it. It was an triumph of excellent engineering. Not the orbiter itself (which was very lo-tech, even by the standards of the day), but that it was cobbled together to make an artificial deadline using pieces and parts from various programs (space and military) and launched sucessfully. Most people have this concept abotu engineering and men in crisp white-shirts doing "high minded stuff." It's a lie, the best engineering, and what mostly happens is people getting themselves dirty and pulling it all together with a whole bunch grit, determination, and bailing wire, bubble-gum, and spit (duct tape hadn't been invented, yet). In the news reels, the people that look good in the suits are from the front office that had very little to do with the success, the ones that look lost in the back and are wondering where the clothes they are wearing came from because they don't remember putting them on that monring, those are the ones that got the project done.

And now that we're 50 years into the Space Age, I have to ask (again), where's my sky car and why can't I take a vacation on the moon?

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