When did the Space Age really begin – a brief time line.
The great philosopher Immanuel Kant said “Two things never cease to fill me with wonder: the moral law within and the starry sky without.” What follows here is based on the latter part of that statement – our fascination with what lies overhead and the history of our efforts to get there.
An age-old wish becomes a reality
Maybe the Space Age began the first time a caveman looked into the night sky and felt a deep-seated wish to travel to some distant star. In any case, certain key developments have led us to this promising point in the story of humanity’s romance with space travel – both the idea and reality.
Did it begin with the successful launch, by the brothers Montgolfier, of a ten-minute long balloon ride on June 4th, 1783 in a small town in France – with a balloon made of sackcloth?
The spirit of Kitty Hawk
1903…the aeronautical age – an all-important step on the path to space travel – becomes a serious matter with the takeoff of a very crude airplane on a runway made of sand. Did the Age of Space begin with the Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk in 1903, when two brothers who ran a bicycle repair shop in a sleepy small town in North Carolina paved the way for the introduction of jumbo jets and flights into the far reaches of outer space with their two-winged contraption? Said contraption, believe it or not, was powered by a motor that may have been weaker than that found in many – if not most – of today’s lawnmowers!
Maybe it began when Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel-propelled rocket in 1926. This and other of his inventions really do make him – if not the father of space travel – at the very least one if its godfathers.
Lindbergh flew the Atlantic alone
Was it when a Minnesota farm boy named Charles Lindbergh – armed with four sandwiches, two canteens of water and 451 gallons of gas – piloted a single-engine plane across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927
Enemies become friends…a giant leap forward
After the second world war hundreds of German rocket scientists, engineers and technicians, whose accomplishments in both the practice and theory of flight dwarfed anything that that the world had ever seen, were brought to the United States after World War II? With this infusion of brainpower the American space program took off like a …rocket!
That funny-looking sphere with the great big toothpicks changes history
Was it when Russia launched Sputnik in 1957, igniting a rivalry for the number #1 spot in the “space race” and turning the celestial reaches into yet another battleground of the Cold War? Definite winners in this grim contest and the monumental advances in space technology made by both Russia and America were consumers all over the world, who can now make their lives easier with such products as memory foam mattresses and adult diapers – thanks to NASA.
What’s next in our journey into space?
From hot air balloons to aircraft with modified automobile engines to rocket ships powered by liquid-fuel, we are still merely at the “water’s edge” of space exploration. Will we come up with paradigms that make anything yet seen in science fiction seem ordinary and commonplace? Will we use teleportation to reach far-off galaxies? Will we find the meeting point of space and time and trade in our rocket ships for time machines? My answer to these questions is – and I am sure I am not alone here – “What the mind can conceive the will can achieve.”