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It All Started with Sputnik

An eminent space historian looks back on the first 50 years of space exploration.

For I’m the man who took up tools and laid out the designs.

Of starships, I’m the one who built their sleek and burnished lines.

I’m everyman who ever fashioned cold refined steel

Into the dreams of spaceflight, I’m the one who made them real.

The first fifty years of space exploration were marked by fantastic dreams and a compelling sense of destiny in space, and the thrill of exploration continues into the next half-century. During the second fifty years of the Space Age, who knows what discoveries will alter the course of the future? A limitless future for humanity in space remains the critical but elusive goal of the Space Age. Russian spaceflight pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky said it best, “The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but we cannot remain forever in the cradle.” What Sputnik taught us is that this cradle is not a cage and that we can leave it.

 

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