Apr. 12th, 2011

krpalmer: (Default)
Converting the historical into the personal, I've reflected that I've kept up this journal long enough to have gone from marking the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1 to the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin orbiting the Earth. That might, though, also reflect on how fast things moved at the dawn of the Space Age; I suppose I'm also conscious the day of this fiftieth anniversary is also the thirtieth anniversary of the first space shuttle launch, which, if it's not just lost in the greater noise, I can see provoking a desire for "something new" and uncertainty about the future at once. It does seem, though, that nobody ever seems to complain that the rocket that launches Soyuz capsules can be traced back fifty years and more; as much as it's built up a reputation for working, I do wonder if it launching from a different continent means it's not analyzed in the same cost-benefit way.

As much as I'd heard about "Yuri's Night" in previous years, I had been wondering, perhaps prompted by a comment in one particular NASA history publication, if people were more inclined to dwell on the Moon landings as "historical events" than the first man in orbit. Part of that might still have to do with "the other guys" doing it first, but I can also wonder if another part of it might have to do with flights into orbit happening all the time. Had some solemn conclave concluded in the early 1970s to just use up the last of the Saturn rockets on Skylab missions and then take lots of pictures by remote control, things might be different no matter what the Soviet Union wound up doing. In any case, Yuri Gagarin might perhaps still be more a figure not just untimely taken from us but capable of being projected upon than the "Mercury Seven," mythologized and blended together back in the day, have since been developed as. This might have happened right from the start, given the suggestions I've heard that he was picked because he was more of a "typical Soviet man" than some of the other cosmonauts. Nowadays, though, he might well be a "first experiencer for all mankind."

June 2017

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