Tuesday, January 4, 2011

T + 50: 50 Years of Man in Space

The year 2011 marks two important anniversaries in the history of human spaceflight:

  • 30 years since the start of the space shuttle program, which is due to come to an end this year.
  • 50 years since the start of human spaceflight, when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (pictured) became the first man in space.
And of course, it is now a full decade on since the once-fabled year 2001, made mythic by Stanley Kubrick's masterful film of the same name (see my earlier post about that film).

Here's today's $64,000 question: Should 2001: A Space Odyssey be reclassified as historical fiction?

In this new occasional series, T + 50, I aim to explore the significance of human spaceflight, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. What used to be seen as the crowning pinnacle of modern civilization and the very symbol of humanity's future had become passe long before we arrived in the 21st century. Were we all just deluded by science fiction fantasies back in the 1950s and 60s? Or did we lose a grand and optimistic vision of expansion beyond the earth? Why should we care about exploring space anyway?

As a lifelong space fan, these are questions that have haunted me for most of my adult life and that I wish to investigate further in the present series. Whatever your level of interest in outer space and its exploration, I hope you enjoy taking this thought journey with me.

As the Amazing Criswell once said, "We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future."

T minus 3... 2... 1...

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