This Is Why The Soviet Union Lost ‘The Space Race’ To The USA
“Korolev began designing the Soyuz spacecraft that would carry crews to the Moon, as well as the Luna vehicles that would land softly on the Moon, plus robotic missions to Mars and Venus. Korolev also sought to fulfill Tsiolkovsky’s dream of putting humans on Mars, with plans for closed-loop life support systems, electrical rocket engines, and orbiting space stations to serve as interplanetary launch sites.
But it was not to be: Korolev entered the hospital on January 5, 1966, for what was thought to be routine intestinal surgery. Nine days later, he was dead from colon cancer complications. Without Korolev as the chief designer, everything went downhill quickly for the Soviets. While he was alive, Korolev fended off attempted meddling from designers like Mikhail Yangel, Vladimir Chhelomei, and Valentin Glushko. But the power vacuum that arose after his demise proved catastrophic.”
On July 20th of this year, humanity will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first human footsteps on the surface of another world: the Moon. Yet history could have been vastly different had one man in the Soviet space program, Sergei Korolev, not suddenly died. The mastermind behind Soviet rockets and most of the major successes of the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s, Korolev had plans to have humans orbit the Moon in 1967 and land on it in 1968. It’s interesting to think that the USA didn’t take the lead as much as the Soviets lost it, and that’s largely due to the death of one man alone.
Come get the story of Sergei Korolev, and learn how one man almost single-handedly made the dream of humans on the Moon and beyond come true.
This Is Why Sputnik Crashed Back To Earth After Only 3 Months
“But for the 25,000+ other satellites in low-Earth orbit, there is no controlled re-entry coming. Earth’s atmosphere will take them down, extending far beyond the artificial edge of space, or Kármán line, that we typically draw. If we were to cease launching satellites today, then in under a century, there would be no remaining trace of humanity’s presence in low-Earth orbit.
Sputnik 1 was launched in 1957, and just three months later, it spontaneously de-orbited and fell back to Earth. The particles from our atmosphere rise far above any artificial line we’ve drawn, affecting all of our Earth-orbiting satellites. The farther your perihelion is, the longer you can remain up there, but the harder it becomes to send-and-receive signals from here on the surface. Until we have a fuel-free technology to passively boost our satellites to keep them in a more stable orbit, Earth’s atmosphere will continue to be the most destructive force to humanity’s presence in space.”
On October 4th, 1957, the world changed forever with the launch of Sputnik 1. One of the common questions that astronomers get asked is whether we can still see it or not. The answer surprises most people: not only can’t we see it, but it crashed back to Earth just 3 months after launch, before the United States even launched its first successful satellite: Explorer 1. Moreover, the reason this happened wasn’t due to any technical flaw or malfunction, but due to the simple physical fact that Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t end where we erroneously and arbitrarily define the “edge of space” to be. Instead, atmospheric drag affects all satellites in low-Earth orbit, and will eventually take down everything from the International Space Station to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Come find out how this works, and learn why over 95% of everything we’ve ever put in space is doomed to come back to Earth by the century’s end.
Winners And Losers In NASA’s Budget For 2018 And Beyond
“Loser: Long-term stability. As big of a fight as it was to get this bill passed and the crippling proposed cuts by the President overturned, it expires on September 30th of this year. All of these battles will likely need to be fought again in the very short term; WFIRST, James Webb, the Office of Education, and NASA’s Earth Science will quite possibly see additional attempts to curtail, cut, or eliminate them entirely. In past administrations, it was rare to see an already funded-and-agreed-upon mission cancelled. If this year is any indication of what’s to come, there will likely be additional battles required to ensure that many of these missions are seen through to fruition.”
Last week, both houses of Congress put forth the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, where after threatening a veto, it was signed into law by President Trump on Friday. On the surface, it looks like a tremendous victory for science across-the-board, as many programs that were threatened to be cut or cancelled had their funding restored. However, it’s extremely important to remember that despite all the efforts that went into overturning the President’s proposed cuts, this victory only extends for 6 month; on September 30th, this $1.3T budget expires. At that point, all of these hard-won victories for science, education, and the American people may need to be battles that are fought all over again. In addition, there are some dangerous new precedents that are set here, including the warmongering “America First National Space Strategy.”
Be pleased with the victories that have just been won in this latest budget fight, but don’t get complacent. The war for the soul of America is just getting started.
Sorry America, We’re Not Going Back To The Moon
“America is home to some of the greatest scientists, engineers, astronauts, administrators, and organizations in the entire world. With the people and facilities we have today, we could put a human on the Moon or even on Mars within the next 10 years, if only we invest in it. But grandstanding, lofty promises, and a dearth of funding will yield the same results they always have: a nation whose greatest dreams go unfulfilled. What we can accomplish as a species is limited only by what’s physically possible and what we invest in it. Our ambitions to venture beyond low-Earth orbit are achievable, but only if we make it so. Unless there’s a plan to increase NASA’s funding to sufficient levels to send humans to worlds beyond our own, America is never going to get there.”
Last week, President Trump signed Space Policy Directive 1, declaring America’s ambitions to return to the Moon with a crewed mission. This is in line with the vision laid out by the Trump administration earlier this year, but with no additional funding provided for the endeavor, it’s all but a certainty that this won’t happen. When we went to the Moon the first time, we were investing approximately 5% of federal expenditures in NASA; today, that figure has declined to just 0.4%, the lowest figure since 1959. We have the people, the technology, the facilities, and the will to take humanity not only to the Moon, but to Mars or even beyond. All it will take is full federal funding and an ambitious timetable. This vision offers neither, ensuring that it will never happen under the current plan.
Sorry, America, we’re not going back to the Moon. And even if we chose to, the Moon shouldn’t be our goal, anyway.
Humanity Needs Science To Survive And Thrive
“The beauty of it all is, therefore, what makes it so disconcerting to some. You can spend your entire life studying a problem, fascinated with the process of investigation and discovery. You can learn everything we know about a field and extend our knowledge within it. And you might have a beautiful idea, a preferred outcome, or a conclusion you wish were true as respects your studies. You may even put together a new theory that has the potential to revolutionize everything we think we know. But no matter how elegant, beautiful, compelling, or intuitive it is, your conclusions must be consistent with the entirety of the information we have. The most successful ideas in science aren’t successful because we love them the most; they’re successful because the evidence overwhelmingly validates and supports them.”
The enterprise of science is one of the most misunderstood in all of society. Some view it as its own religion; others view it as a political ideology gussied up in smart-sounding clothes; still others view it as open to interpretation. But science is none of those things, and is rather the full suite of knowledge humanity has accumulated along with our process of discovery, investigation, and ongoing hard work. When we look at why humanity is so successful as a species, it’s rooted in our ability to understand the natural world. We’ve learned how a variety of systems work, independently and together, and have figured out how various influence affect it. This has led to advances in everything from agriculture, health, safety, and medicine to Earth science, astronomy, and particle physics.
Without science, stagnation is the absolute best humanity can hope for. But with it, our success is limited only by how quickly we can move forward!