Thursday, July 24, 2014

CNN: "The Space Race" of "The Sixties"

CNN aired “The Space Race”, one week late, in its series “The Sixties” Thursday night, July 24.
The Soviet Union had put Sputnik in orbit in 1957, and a US countereffort (the Vanguard) blew up on the first try.  By 1961, Kennedy was determined to beat the Soviet Union to the Moon.  The Space Race was about our own sense of security, and I grew up with it.

The Soviets would be the first to have a man walk in space. But remember the film "The Right Stuff", pretty much set in 1963?
In 1967, NASA would experience a fire that would kill three astronauts. 
But July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, with Neil Armstrong (then 39) being the first to set foot on the Moon.
I have written how indeed this was a watermark in history.  Three weeks before, the Stonewall Rebellion, the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, had occurred in New York City.  This was probably Nixon’s best moment, long before we would realize how corrupt his presidency would become.
Apollo 13, in 1970, almost didn’t make it back, and it became the subject of a powerful film in 1995.
CNN has a link that explains how the US wanted to be the first to use the Moon as a site for nuclear weapons tests.  

There was real reason to fear that nuclear weapons or EMP strikes could be launched from space.
It’s amazing that computers in the 1960s, with their low memories by today’s standards, could manage spaceflight.  Technology has expanded enormously in communication since then, but not in the ability to actually move people to live on the Moon or other planets.  We’re not even close, except in science fiction, to figuring out how to handle the speed of light barrier to get to other solar systems.  Maybe there is a way to use worm holes.

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