Space Day 2010

July 20 is Space Day each year. A nice event, where folks can be entertained by space activities past, present and future. Often in coordination with open houses and space activist booths. Folks, like me, who believe that space resources can be used for the expansion and benefit of civilization, and action can be done now.

But we humanity are a complex bunch, in types of people and in multiplicity of motives. The original July 20 lunar landing was thrilling to a nation as a major accomplishment of technology and teamwork. To some others it was a solid step toward space colonization and resource use, long dreamed about in science fiction writings and movies. To some others, the lunar landing was a milestone in the "space race" to show the Soviets that we too can reach the Moon and attack nuclear rocket sites they might put there aimed at the US as they did in Cuba - but we had a placard on that lander that said "we came in peace for all mankind" which set the tone for the event. And in fact, those latter folks were the ones who made it all happen, put forth the money and effort to get it done; if it had not been for fear of the Soviets reaching the Moon first and aiming unassailable rockets at us from there, they would never have enabled us to reach the Moon that day.

Even looking back further, when the Nazis created the V2 rocket, its designers dreamed of peaceful space travel by rockets someday, but the ones that actually made it happen, again were the military minded types, that bent the rocket technology to the task of attacking the quarry, such as London. It was the ones who focus on assault that were the ones that actually made rocketry happen.

Although the "space race" was won with the Apollo lunar landings, and that program was cut short thereafter, there were the ones who saw space as opportunity for adventure and profit, enabling things to happen that could not be done otherwise such as the telecommunications satellites in GEO and GPS in low orbits, that were able to continue on with some impetus after Apollo. The Space Shuttle and ISS projects were then started, something to keep our technology level up - in case someone else with urges of conquering thinks of putting missiles on the Moon or other distant parts, we will be able to be in the game - and the ISS enabled those of formerly opposing sides to cooperate in a high profile interesting project, proving we can achieve together without conflict. Many nations have chimed in with their own launches of satellites to do various things, communications, earth monitoring, sometimes a status-proving human launch and recovery. Scientific probes of the other planets have found out many interesting things and provides amazing photographs of those far away places; and identified potential material resource identification for the future; these tend to not be of militaristic motivation except possibly some support simply as intelligence gathering of everything known.

But a check today of the front page online of the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, even the SeattlePi website, none of them mentioned anything whatsoever about space activities or plans. Even the BBC site only had one article about space activities, and that was to announce that Russia was going to build a new spaceport on its eastern edge, primarily for civilian launches; it also pointed out that when the Space Shuttle is retired, the only way to provide human travel to and from the ISS will be by the Russian vehicles.

Even the space projects I have designed and proposed over the decades, have been so thoroughly ignored - in some cases apparently outright suppressed by rival interests - that the only outlet I have remaining is to fall back on that old standby, science fiction. And in fact it has been satisfying to my introverted self, to experience the creation of my space projects in such fantasy. I also have come to realize that much of science fiction is not to work toward actual space travel, but instead sci fi enables creation of worlds where human activities can play out without offending the powers-that-be. These writers and readers seem to be quite horrified at my writings that suggest we could actually today be preparing for enormous travel to Earth orbit etc; to bring the aloof fantasy worlds of sci fi down into the arena of actual physical doings, also brings it at risk of being taken over by the authoritarians that rule the rest of our lives and are controlled by power crazies and business profit greed, no interest in humanity or civilization except as predators, rule by the most powerful, that kind of stuff. So my writings are apparently seen as an invasion of the potential real, into their free-living fantasylands, a risk of their losing their precious place of escape from their bosses, even if only in imagination. And with such fantasies of sci fi adventures being read, when things get too rough up there, like using Star Trek's "Transporter," the reader can instantly be back down here in safe same-old physical reality, no longer chased by space aliens or whatever.

So, that is what Space Day 2010 looks like from here now.

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  • I believe the saying goes along the lines of, "History is written by the victors."

    Of course the implication would be to always cautiously approach historical significance, given that historical evidence is tainted by and large by the subjective discrepancies of those who document and study it.

    Another danger would be to lose objectivity in study and pursuit, allowing history to be rewritten through rose-colored glasses undermines the true appreciation of what created the scenario on a wider scale. I mean really, a great deal of research, technology, and innovation were built on the backs and written in the blood of others. Forgetting the true cost makes us blind to future dangers. Those that do not learn from history...

    Even today it happens again. Innovation is being stifled and personal growth and talent is being stymied by ingrained corporate ownerships. Oh well. Reading this was truly intriguing, having missed this period due to age, it is a fascinating look at the history of the space race in a new light. A greater appreciation is always interesting, and I thank you for the informative history lesson. There were things I had known before, but many things I did not.


    By Blogger Geoff, At 6:53 PM  

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