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Apollo’s Legacy is Keeping Us Grounded

20 Jul 2019, 16:09 UTC
Apollo’s Legacy is Keeping Us Grounded
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Buzz Aldrin’s famous footprint. NASA.

Apollo was amazing. Footage moonwalking astronauts and breathtaking images of the Earth from space remain a source of inspiration, and on a personal level have been the driver behind my entire academic and professional career. Apollo’s legacy, on the other hand, has crippled our progress in space. In short, I think Apollo sort of ruined spaceflight.

In the Very Beginning…

On July 29, 1955, White House Press Secretary James C. Hagerty addressed the nation in a televised broadcast. “On behalf of the President,” he began, “I am now announcing that the President has approved plans by this country for going ahead with the launching of small unmanned earth-circling satellite as part of the United States participation in the International Geophysical Year.”

For the average American in the mid-1950s, rockets and satellites were fodder for science fiction. But for the scientists working on IGY — an international, 18-month scientific investigation into solar geophysical activity running from July of 1957 to December of 1958 — satellites were the only way to study the Sun and the Earth free from atmospheric disturbances. The promise of this technology making the leap from science fiction to science fact ...

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