Thursday, October 13, 2005

1957 Revisited

In the New York Times Magazine, Dr. Israel Monroe Levitt, director of the Fels Planetarium of the Franklin Institute, prognosticated about the future of space exploration. These predictions were made in 1957, after the entire world set its eyes on the stars, as a result of the successful launches of Sputnik and Sputnik II, earlier that year:

1960-Satellites with TV transmitters begin operation.
1968-Rocket ship bearing a man or woman (a woman packs the same brains and skill as a man into a smaller package) penetrates to space outside the atmosphere.
1978-Construction of first manned satellite space station.
2000-First departure for the moon, Mercury, and Mars.
2???-First journeys to the nearest stars to see if they, too, have planets and life.

Here is the actual timetable for these events:

1960-AT&T applies for the right to launch a communications satellite with the government. This is finally accomplished in 1965 with the launch of Early Bird by Hughes Aircraft Company. (Interestingly, the first proposal for a communication satellite was authored by SF writer, Arthur C. Clarke-of 2001: A Space Oddysey-fame, in 1945!)
1961-Gegarin is the first man in space on April 12 while Sheppard follows him 23 days later, on May 5.
1971-Salyut I is first manned Space Station. The US's Skylab follows in 1973.
1969-Armstrong walks on moon as the first human on another celestial object. Aldrin follows him 15 minutes later. Collins drives in circles and picks them up. Mercury is probably out of the question. Mars is still just a twinkle in scientist's eyes.
2???-No difference in this prediction and reality. Trips to nearby stars are still in the way distant future.

Dr. Levitt didn't do too bad with his predictions, did he? Who would have guessed that the moon landing would precede the space station?

The launches of Sputnik I and II in 1957 set the stage for the great space race between the US and USSR. It excited generations of scientists and dreamers. Being born in that year helped to fuel my passion for science and science fiction.

17 comments:

MargeinMI said...

One childhood memory that is very vivid to me still, is Mom waking us up to watch the moon landing/walk.

I look through my child's eyes now(just a couple of years older than I was then) and know that he can see pictures on the internet of Mars, withing hours of when they were taken. All that progress in just one generation!

What does tomorrow hold??????

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can't wait!!!!!!!

Kajun said...

Hot air balloons (usually about a hundred) be all in the air here, this weekend.

Beerme said...

MargeinMI,

Yes, it is incredible how far we've come! If you think about it, though, we probably should have come much further. There were repeated US attempts to launch ICBM vehicles after the Sputnik launches and several failures. And yet, in ten years from those inauspicious beginnings, an American walked on the moon! The accomplishment took bold, arrogant and risky action. It was incredibly complex and all unprecedented. I'm not sure the same feat could be accomplished today with our zero-tolerance, low-risk, every-life-is-precious government attitude. The future of space exploration is definitely in the private sector.

Beerme said...

kajun,

I don't know if it's the beautiful, vibrant colors they employ or the slow, quiet grace of the things, but hot air balloons are truly special! I love to watch them and have often pulled off the road just to view groups as they take off into the wild blue yonder, here in Michigan.

Kajun said...

2057

Mexica President Jorge Bush announced today that all troops would be withdrawn from Iraq, and sent to the Gulf Coast city of Memphis to bring an end to the looting and anarchy that has overwhelmed the Town Marshal, due to the new Ice Age brought on by former President Alfredo Gore's efforts to stop Global Warming, earlier this century.

Hawkeye® said...

So tell me... what's the fascination with 1957 all about? Is that the year you were born? I was 5 years old at the time.

Regards,
Hawkeye®

Beerme said...

kajun,

Good response! Maybe others may wish to prognosticate...

Hawkeye,

Yes, I was born that year. I picked up a year 1957 almanac of sorts at a historical museum at a town nearby (Dryden Heritage Days, the town's yearly festival) and read it cover to cover. It was loaded with neat stuff that I found interesting, so I expounded a bit.

Maggie said...

" the class of 57 had its' day".

Kajun said...

'57 Chevys were (and still are) ugly, in my opinion! '56's weren't/aren't.

Beerme said...

kajun,

Don't like the fins? Or is it the chrome trim?

Kajun said...

I don't like the hood, grille, or the fins and the upholstery was scratchy (especially on bare skin).

If that's not enough, the hottest version they made--when it was new--would only run 83 MPH wide open, with the Air Conditioner lit.

The stupid gas tank filler is hid behind a hinged section of chrome on one of those fins.

camojack said...

My time in utero was 1957...as I mentioned previously.

Beerme said...

kajun,

Yeah it really looks cheesey that gas cap cover, especially when it sags or a hinge breaks. Chalk that one up to nice idea, never worked out. Kinda like all the times any carmaker decided it would be a great idea to run the exhaust pipes through the chrome bumper. Wouldn't that be neat!

Libby Gone™ said...

Very interesting Beerme!
I read that if WWII had a different outcome(ie America remained isolationist) That men would have been in orbit by 1957. In a spacecraft with Nazi insignia!

Hawkeye® said...

Beerme,
Yeah, back in the 40s, 50s and 60s when you bought a set of encyclopedias, they used to have something like an annual "Year In Review". So, if your Britannicas were dated 1955, you could buy a follow-up volume for 1956, 1957, etc.

They told you it was a way to keep your investment current... but it was really just a way to sell more books. (Don't get me wrong though, I loved those books).

Beerme said...

I still have a set of Funk and Wagnalls from around 1963, I think. Never got the follow-up books, though.

Libby Gone™ said...

Open thread at Libby Gone™
http://kabaij.blogspot.com/
For the detoxing Scrapplefacers..