Archive for the 'Wave Guide 5: International Space' Category

Jun 04 2014

New USC astronautics course “Human Spaceflight” for Fall 2014

Happy to announce that I’m teaching a new graduate course for the Department of Astronautical Engineering at USC this Fall on “Human Spaceflight.”

University of Southern California
New for FALL 2014ASTE 599, Human Spaceflight
Instructor: Dr. Bruce Cordell

Human spaceflight has become a dynamic international and commercial activity that promises to exceed even the 50-year old transformational space vision of President John F. Kennedy, which led to the first humans on the Moon in 1969. Engineers, scientists, and managers need to stay abreast of this arena as global needs and aspirations surge to new heights.

For example, the International Space Station has won approval from the White House and the International Partners (Russia, Japan, ESA, Canada) to extend operations to 2024. In 2012, the Dragon spacecraft (SpaceX) made history when it became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to ISS; Dragon is also designed to deliver crew.

In 2014, China became the first country in the 21st century to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. Human missions to its space station (Tiangong-1) since 2011 are well-known as are its plans to expand this human orbital infrastructure to the Moon. NASA continues with development of the Space Launch System, a heavy-lift vehicle that could support human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars, as could SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.

At USC in Fall Semester 2014, ASTE 599 Human Spaceflight will explore a variety of attractive systems and technologies used in current and future human space missions. This includes environmental control and life support, human factors and space environments, and crew accommodations. For missions to Earth orbit and beyond we’ll examine orbit selection and astrodynamics, as well as mission operations and safety, and communications. Applications will include launch vehicles and transfer vehicles, space stations, and surface bases.

For off-campus enrollment options: http://gapp.usc.edu/graduate-programs/den/getting-started/enrollment-options

No responses yet

May 26 2014

Bruce’s ISDC 2014 Presentation — The New Apollo-level Space Age

It was a pleasure to be an invited speaker at the recent meeting of the International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2014) of the National Space Society on May 15 in Los Angeles.

The Conference theme was A Space Renaissance, and my presentation — “The New Apollo-level Space Age” — was definitely in that spirit!
CLICK

For the ppt version CLICK: ISDC.2014.Cordell.

The key points include:

1. A variety of long-term and current global indicators point to a new, international, Apollo-level Space Age (i.e., a Maslow Window) that is just around the corner.

2. Great Explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and the largest Macro Engineering Projects (e.g., Panama Canal) cluster together about twice-per-century during transformative JFK-style booms; the most recent was in the 1960s featuring Apollo.

3. During the booms, widespread real income gains result in momentary “ebullience” as many ascend Maslow’s Hierarchy; their expanded worldviews make Apollo-style initiatives seem almost irresistible.

4. An approaching “critical state” suggests the Maslow Window is imminent because of macroeconomic precursors, including the financial Panic of 2008, and increasing geopolitical stress points (e.g., Iran, North Korea) that could develop parallels with the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

5. China’s recent soft-landing of a spacecraft on the Moon — the first in the 21st century — suggests we are within 1-3 years of a JFK-style economic boom that traditionally launches the unprecedented activities of the new technology and space renaissance.

For more information, CLICK: “The Maslow Window – Intro”

No responses yet

Dec 29 2013

Did ESA’s Mars Express Broadcast the Carpenters’ “Close to You” This AM to Phobos?

Well if they didn’t, they should have!

Now we know what the Carpenters really meant when they sang their mega-hit, “Close to You”…
Click

Lyrics from “Close to You” by Burt Bacharach and Hal David; recorded by the Carpenters, 1970…

Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Only a short time ago (11:09 pm, 12/28/13 California time) the Mars Express spacecraft made the closest approach ever to Phobos — only 28 miles (45 km) above its fascinating surface!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ESA and the Mars Express team!!

It’s too fast and close to take images but the trajectory data — currently being received by the 70 m NASA tracking station in Madrid — will be used to better constrain the structure of Phobos’ very porous interior!

On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust …

Phobos is truly a “dream come true” especially every 2 years when a launch window opens that makes Phobos (and Deimos) more accessible energy-wise than a trip to the lunar surface!

For those of us who crave the human exploration of Mars, Phobos is indeed the key to the cosmos!

Just so you know what Mars Express must have been feeling this morning, here’s an encore performance of “Close To You”; CLICK Here.

No responses yet

Dec 23 2013

The Meaning of China’s New Moon

Could the 21st Century shape up to be China’s on the Moon … and even — if the U.S. allows it — here on Earth?

On December 14 China took “one giant step,” to quote Neil Armstrong (44 years earlier) in that direction by soft-landing Chang’e 3 and successfully deploying the “Jade Rabbit” rover on the Moon’s surface.

This is a great achievement that could lead to Chinese astronauts on the Moon by the 2020s, and clearly signals our rapid approach to the next 1960s-style Maslow Window and the new International Space Age.

China’s new rover on the Moon is farther away than the Senkaku Islands, but is its geopolitical meaning the same?
CLICK

For historical perspective, Russia achieved the first soft landing on the Moon in January 1966 (Luna 9). And the first manned landing on the Moon was by the U.S. in July 1969 (Apollo 11) followed by 5 more (3 w rovers), with the last coming in December 1972.

Significantly, the most recent soft landing on the Moon was by Russia in August 1976. Thus China’s Moon triumph is the most recent gentle landing on the Moon in 37 years!

This 4-decade hiatus in human and robotic exploration on the lunar surface is apparently due to the Maslow Effect, involving multi-decade self organization of the international economic system into twice-per-century, transformative “critical states”.

Thus China becomes only the 3rd country in history to join the international Moon Club, as well as the 1st and only nation to do it (so far) in the 21st Century!

So…will China win the 21st Century Moon by default?

Many have noticed China’s success. For example, NASA planetary scientist and long-time major advocate of human missions to Mars, Chris McKay is now supporting a U.S. lunar base, mainly because without it we’ll be less able to influence future international plans for the Moon. Lunar and Planetary Institute scientist Paul Spudis agrees that the Chang’e-3 mission is about expanding China’s future options on the Moon, in this case by flight-testing a “new and potentially powerful lunar surface payload delivery system.”

Former NASA boss Mike Griffin believes that ISS-style international cooperation with China in a Moon base initiative is currently possible as long as the U.S. is “clearly ahead,” but this window will rapidly close as China’s space capabilities expand. Likewise, long-time NASA backer Rep. Frank Wolf (R), currently serving his 17th term in Congress, is retiring and has written President Obama asking for action regarding a “U.S.-led return to the Moon” in the next decade.

Unfortunately, the response of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is to say No to new “flagship missions” for NASA, “The budget doesn’t support that.”

Bolden’s absolutely right about the budget, but he neglects to focus on the connection between the budget and the current sluggish economy, and ultimately that’s the responsibility of his boss, President Obama.

And because Apollo-level initiatives since Lewis and Clark only occur during JFK-style economic booms, the question really is: How do we stimulate significant growth in the economy?

The formula’s been known for some time. President Kennedy used it with considerable success in the early 1960s to create the greatest boom in modern history and to support Apollo. Because of its importance, we’ll examine JFK’s stimulus program in the near future.

One more point about China’s new Moon: early leaks from China suggested a long-term program culminating in a Star Wars-style “death star” base on the Moon with significant offensive military potential.

Such hoopla is undoubtedly for internal consumption (in China), but military Moon bases are not without merit. For example, in 1984 Edward Teller extolled the virtues of a lunar base for continuous, secure surveillance of Earth. And George Friedman presents a dazzling future space war scenario featuring military bases on the Moon’s farside.
You can read more here; CLICK: The Geopolitics of a Moon Base

Did the folks in Beijing just remember to renew their subscription to Stratfor?

One response so far

Feb 01 2013

Lunar Bases Via 3-D Printing?

The European Space Agency announced today that they and their collaborators — including London architects Foster + Partners — are investigating the possibility of using 3-D printing to facilitate the expansion of human civilization to the Moon.

Typical of Foster + Partners’ spectacular projects is the Millau Viaduct in southern France. Completed in 2004, the bridge is so high — towers stretch up to 1125 feet — that drivers often “glide above the clouds,” (Wall Street Journal, 1/26/13).
Click
(Daniel Jamme)

3-D Printing has been identified previously as being one of three key developing technologies (the other two are big data and the wireless revolution) that are likely to have as much impact on our future as electricity and telephony had on the last century.

These and other 21st Century technologies are poised to trigger a near-term JFK-style boom. In the last 200 years such twice-per-century expansions have repeatedly led to Apollo-level great explorations and 1960s-style cultural transformations, and can be expected to do so again.

According to Mark Mills (founder of Digital Power Group and Forbes columnist) and Julio Ottino (engineering dean at Northwestern), in WSJ (1/30/12):

America’s success isn’t preordained. But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound. They will engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy. All the forces are in place. It’s just a matter of when.

ESA, Foster + Partners and their collaborators believe that building a lunar base using lunar materials and a 3-D printer would be simpler and more economical than previous ideas.
Click

Because 3-D printing has already been used to create buildings on Earth, Foster + Partners is using their experience designing structures for extreme climates on Earth to envision 3-D printer technology on the Moon.

One attractive idea is to mix lunar material with magnesium oxide to make a “paper” the 3-D printer can use. Engineers believe that a next gen 3-D printer will be able to create an entire lunar building in only a week.

2 responses so far

Jun 19 2012

As the 1960s-Style “Critical State” Approaches, Space Surges

This morning the Wall Street Journal proclaims “A Leaderless World — Signs of disorder grow as American influence recedes.”

The list includes:
Syria, which may be heading for a civil war as Russia and Iran back Damascus;
Iran, who continues to move toward a nuclear weapon and may trigger an attack by Israel and/or nuclear proliferation throughout the region;
and the
Eurozone, who continues to try to solve a debt crisis by adding more debt.

As the 1960s Space Age began, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the edge. (President Kennedy and Premier Khruschev shown.)
Click

And the U.S. is hardly immune from growing turmoil. For example, a recent poll for The Hill revealed 75% of people are either very or somewhat worried that the U.S. is headed for another recession.

Unfortunately, double-dip recessions are typical features of the years immediately preceding a “critical state” over the last 200+ years, and growing national debt is a major contributor.
Click: Is High Debt Triggering Another Pre-Maslow Recession?

In the midst of this geopolitical turbulence, the development of space technology continues spectacularly.

For example, on Saturday China launched 3 astronauts — including its first woman — into space and achieved its first orbital rendezvous and docking with their Tiangong 1 module yesterday, becoming only the 3rd country ever to do so. China envisions a full-size space station in orbit near 2020.

The U.S. also joined the informal “Weekend Space Party” by culminating the 15 month secret mission of its X-37B spaceplace and landing at Vandenberg AFB in California. The X-37B is an unmanned, Mach 25 spaceplane that is developing technologies which will facilitate space commercialization as well as considerably enhance national security.

Given the recent kick-offs of two other space programs — asteroid mining by Seattle-based Planetary Resources and Mars colonization by the Netherlands-based group Mars One — it’s striking how this surge in space-related activity is concurrent with today’s growing international tensions, much like the early 1960s.

This suggests that the approaching critical state has major parallels with the 1960s.

The Bad News is the 1960s critical state featured a bumpy road known as the Cuban Missile Crisis — reminiscent of current threats in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The Good News is the lesson of the 1960s and all critical states over the last 200+ years: As we move through current geopolitical stress, we appear to be approaching a Camelot-style renaissance in space exploration, technology development, and commercial expansion … by mid-decade.

No responses yet

Jun 05 2012

Mars One: World-Class Ebullience and a Maslow-Friendly Schedule

According to the old Dutch saying: “God made the Earth but the Dutch made Holland.” And now a Netherlands-based group proposes to do it again, but this time on Mars.

“Mars One … seems to me to be the only way to fulfill dreams of mankind’s expansion into space,” according to 1999 Nobel physics winner Gerard ‘t Hooft.
Click

Last week Mars One made public its intention to establish the first human settlement on Mars by 2023! And to simplify the mission, lower program costs, and demonstrate their total commitment to the settlement of Mars, the Mars One astronauts do not intend to come back.

Bas Lansdorp, founder of Mars One, asks:

Who would be able to look away from an adventure such as this one? Who wouldn’t be compelled to watch, talk about, get involved in the biggest undertaking mankind has ever made?

This ebullient tone is echoed by Mars One team member physicist Arno Wielders who speaks of

…the need to make mankind a multi-planet species and because it is the most exciting project ever to be undertaken by humans.

This is the language of “ebullience” — a highly positive view of the future — always associated with the approach of Maslow Windows over the last 200 years.

Although not seen since the 1960s Apollo Moon program, this type of excitement has been the fundamental driver of great explorations back to Lewis and Clark, as well as the largest macro-engineering projects, such as the Panama Canal.

The recent kick-offs of two of the most exciting commercial projects of all time — asteroid mining by Planetary Resources and now the colonization of Mars by Mars One — support the forecast of 21stCenturyWaves.com that we are approaching another transformative, 1960s-style Maslow Window … by mid-decade.

For a brief survey of early ebullience as it erupts around the world today, Click: Did the New Space Age Begin This Week with Space Resources?

Mars One intends to finance its multi-billion dollar program by creating “the greatest media event ever,” — in essence leveraging the natural ebullience of this coming Maslow Window.

The entire world will be able to watch and help with decisions as the teams of settlers are selected, follow their extensive training and preparation for the mission and of course observe their settling on Mars once arrived. The emigrated astronauts will share their experiences with us as they build their new home, conduct experiments and explore Mars. The mission itself will provide us with invaluable scientific and social knowledge that will be accessible to everyone, not just an elite select few.

One of the most extraordinary aspects of Mars One is its schedule: the first 4 astronauts will be delivered to their new home on Mars by April, 2023. After that, every two years 4 more astronauts will join the group to form a sustainable extraterrestrial community.

To establish Club Mars by 2023 requires significant R&D and design work by their “Suppliers” which include Paragon and SpaceX (which just completed its historic mission to ISS).

According to their plan, the first actual mission will deliver supplies and a communications satellite to Mars in 2016, followed in 2018 by a large rover which will explore locations for the initial settlement. By 2020 the elements of the initial base will arrive and be ready for their first residents in 2023.

Compared to President Obama’s suggestion of manned Mars missions in the 2030s, the Mars One plan sounds accelerated, however President John F. Kennedy announced the Apollo program goal in 1961 and only 8 years later the first Moon landing occurred.

That was 40+ years ago and in addition to the six manned Moon landings, we have benefited from the Shuttle program, the International Space Station, and numerous robotic spacecraft studying Mars.

Importantly, the Mars One near-term schedule is compatible with persistent 200-year patterns in Maslow Window timing; i.e., assuming the next Maslow Window opens near 2015, it is unlikely to be viable beyond 2025.

For example, the Apollo Maslow Window opened in 1959 with Project Mercury (in response to the surprise launch of Sputnik) and slammed shut in 1970 when the last 3 Apollo Moon landing missions were canceled due to budget issues and the Vietnam War. How much more of Apollo would have been lost if Vietnam had intensified a few years earlier instead of when it did in 1968 (the Tet offensive)?

Because the “critical states” associated with Maslow Windows are short-lived and close abruptly, I suggested recently in Ad Astra that one solution is to establish self-sufficiency in deep space.

To avoid another 40 years trapped in Earth orbit, it’s important to establish human bases on the Moon and/or near Mars that can operate without frequent re-supply from Earth. This should be a high priority during the new international Space Age because of the window’s likely short lifetime.

If fund development for Mars One proceeds as planned, their schedule is Maslow-friendly. However, if it slips appreciably their program could be threatened.

One of the lessons of the last 200+ years of great explorations (e.g., the Apollo experience) is that counter-ebullient attitudes begin to appear midway into a Maslow Window. So after 2020, fund development, even for a continuing program like Mars One, is likely to become more difficult than before.

One response so far

Mar 12 2012

State of the Wave: The Geopolitics of a Moon Base

Ex-NASA executive Charles Miller’s recent (Wall Street Journal, 2/3/12) op-ed on returing to the Moon was particularly interesting for its explicit linkage to commercial space and national security.

In the short term — As I commented last year in Space News (6/29/11) — such front-burner aspects of a Moon program will be trumped by the slow economic recovery.

President Obama’s cancellation of Constellation — the U.S. program to return to the Moon by 2020 — was not a big surprise. It appears to be merely a speed bump on the road to near-term international commercial and scientific development of Earth-Moon space and even humans to Mars.

For more perspective on a Moon base, Click: Is the Moon a “Golden Oldie” or a “One Hit Wonder”?

In 1990, Lawrence Livermore scientists proposed an inflatable base on the Moon within a decade that would become self-sufficient, require only 60 tons of hardware transported to the Moon, and cost only ~ $ 11 B.
Click

Miller makes the Moon base cost-effective by reducing Earth launch costs by a factor of 10+ to $ 500 per pound and achieves this by focusing on development of a totally reusable spaceplane. The technology requirements remind Miller of the X-37, an unmanned Mach 25 resuable spacecraft that launches like a rocket and lands like an airplane similar to the Space Shuttle.

According to Miller, reusable spaceplanes are the key to commercial space.

The nation that builds the first true reusable spaceplane will be in a position to dominate the much broader commercial space industry … such as satellite servicing, tourism, and medical breakthroughs from zero-gravity research.

The X-37 began as a NASA project in 1999 but was transferred to DARPA in 2004 where it became a secret program. Recently the X-37B spaceplane celebrated one year in orbit although its mission is classfied as is its return date.

In 2010 Tom Burghardt (Space Daily; May 11) asserted that the X-37 will help achieve Air Force Space Command’s stated goal of “space dominance” that includes,

a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy, or as a launch vehicle that can deliver bombs, missiles or kinetic weapons anywhere on earth in less than two hours.

Miller confirms that our critical strategic assets in space (e.g. comsats, surveillance satellites) are currently vulnerable to potential anti-satellite weapons being developed by China (successfully tested in 2007) and even North Korea and Iran, but that spaceplanes “will transform national security” by their ability to rapidly replace such orbiting assets, and thus reduce the incentive to attack them in the first place.

Traditionally, the Moon has been viewed as the most secure location for Earth surveillance, as expressed in 1984 by the famous physicist Edward Teller at the Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century Conference. (I also spoke at this event on importing water from the moons of Mars for use in the Earth-Moon system.)

Teller stated he would like to see an outpost on the Moon (~12 people) as soon as possible. As a “special proposal” he recommended that,

Surveillance of the Earth — permanent continuous surveillance that is hard to interfere with — is an extremely important question, important to us, important to the international community, important for peace-keeping … It is in everyone’s best interest to have observation stations that are not easy to interfere with.

Teller also suggested that in the name of global peace, Earth surveillance images obtained from Moon orbit should be made “universally available.”

More recently (1/6/12), Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt — the first scientist on the Moon — sees the current status of civilian space as a geopolitical crisis for America.

America’s eroding geopolitical stature, highlighted by the July 21, 2011, end to flights of the United States Space Shuttle, has reached crisis proportions. Obama Administration officials now spin the nebulous thought of Astronauts flying many months to an undetermined asteroid in 2025 as an actual “National Space Policy”. On the other hand, Republican candidates for President have not yet recognized the importance of international civil space competition in the federal government’s constitutional function to provide for the nation’s “common defence”. Candidates appear to be uninterested in having the United States lead deep space exploration, including establishing American settlements on the Moon …

Meanwhile, China is building a major new deep space launch facility in Hainan and developing new rockets and spacecraft to take over the exploration of the Moon from the United States and the free world.

Given the geopolitical significance of the Moon in the coming mid-decade Maslow Window, I have surveyed several friends in the military and NASA communities, and none claims knowledge of any studies of potential national security applications of a Moon base done over the last 10-15 years.

The closest I could come was a chilling Moon-related military scenario in George Friedman’s (Stratfor.com) book The Next Hundred Years (2009); he agrees with Teller’s opinion of the value of Earth surveillance from the Moon and suggests that, “Sustaining and defending a base on the Moon will actually be easier than doing the same for orbital systems.”

Although no specific references are provided, Friedman insists that:

These forecasts are based on real technology, reasonable extrapolations about future technology, and reasonable war planning.

In Friedman’s mid-21st century scenario, both Japan and Turkey — two key space powers by then — become understandably threatened by powerful U.S. command and control “battlestars” in Geostationary orbits that can very rapidly direct a variety of weapons — advanced versions of the X-37, lasers, hypersonic missiles — at any point on Earth or in space.

By this time many nations will have bases on the Moon, however Japan and Turkey build an underground base on the Moon’s farside where they secretly use lunar materials to develop, build, and launch missiles to attack the Battlestars in Earth orbit.

I won’t give away how the story ends here. However, it is unlikely that “secret” military activities could go unnoticed for long on the anti-Earth side of the Moon. For example, many astronomers have already chosen the Moon’s farside as the best location for a radio observatory in this part of the solar system.

No responses yet

Feb 27 2012

Foreign Affairs Features The Case for Space

The current issue of Foreign Affairs (March/April, 2012) featues “The Case for Space” by astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. In 2004 he was appointed by President Bush to the “Moon, Mars, and Beyond” Commission, so he is familiar with the range of arguments relevant to U.S. space exploration policy.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ph.D. believes we should spend more time and money reaching for the stars.
Click

How Much is a New Planet Worth?
Tyson initially grabs our attention by asserting that a manned mission to Mars would “surely cost hundreds of billions of dollars — maybe even $ 1 trillion.” This is a surprising number since the whole 1960s Apollo Moon program cost ~$ 150 B in today’s dollars. To approach $ 1 T you would have to look at a multi-decade program of manned Mars missions, which is not currently in the cards. Zubrin has recently shown how we can fly to Mars by 2016 for far less than the Apollo program.

On the other hand, in 2009 I estimated — based on cost ratios of pre-Maslow MEPs to the major Maslow MEPs over the last 200 years — that the coming Maslow Window (expected by mid-decade) will feature a total MEP expenditure of between $ 1 and 3 T (current USD). But this could include a variety of projects such as manned Mars, lunar bases, and space-based solar power infrastructures.

Because of their large costs, importance to national prestige, and use of high technology, major space programs become political issues, and Tyson highlights what he sees as the end of “immunity to partisanship” of the space program after 2004 when the Shuttle Columbia was lost. It got worse when President Obama took office in 2009. Partly due to his space policies and other controversial issues, Obama is the most polarizing president on record according to Gallup; his rating of 68 (the difference between the percent of Democrats and Republicans who approve of his job performance) is the highest on record for a president’s 3rd year, as were his partisan gaps for his first and second years (65 and 68).

Tyson notes that in the end, Obama’s suggestions for manned Mars missions in the 2030s have not been taken seriously because

When a president promises something beyond his years in office, he is fundamentally unaccountable … The only thing guaranteed to happen on his (Obama’s) watch is the interruption of the United States’ access to space.

While Tyson’s focus on politics is understandable, it misses the real point: Economics is the fundamental problem.

Doesn’t anyone watch Animal Planet anymore?
The last time I checked, when the main waterhole is drying up, disputes become common and everyone tends to be edgy about everything.

The same is naturally happening with the economy today. Negative animal spirits call into question positive visions of the future like space.

Tyson naturally believes — and he is right — that a visionary U.S. space program is the solution to motivating youth and revitalizing the American education system, as well as stimulating innovation and the economy. And most importantly:

The United States will once again witness how space ambitions can shape the destiny of nations.

But he does not emphasize that the fundamental reason we have been trapped in Earth orbit for 40 years (since Apollo) is because of the lack of a JFK-style economic boom that created exuberance by increasing prosperity to virtually every group in society and dropping unemployment to nearly zero.

Two hundred years of macroeconomic and political patterns as well as current global trends suggest we’re on trajectory for the next 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology… to begin by mid-decade.

The political realignment that began in 2008 is continuing and will determine its exact timing.

No responses yet

Feb 21 2012

Glenn’s 1962 Flight Points to a New International Space Age

Yesterday we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first American to orbit the Earth. On February 20, 1962, John Glenn carried the hopes of Americans with him as he did 3 revs, inspired the Australians in Perth to turn their lights on as he passed over them, survived a faulty sensor indicating his heat shield might be loose, and became a national hero at the level of Charles Lindbergh.

John Glenn and JFK (right) admire the Mercury capsule which Glenn rode into orbit in 1962.
Click

Earlier as a Marine pilot, Glenn completed the first transcontinental supersonic flight from California to New York in 3 hours 23 minutes. And in 1959 he became one of the original 7 NASA astronauts.

Glenn’s orbital flight in 1962 got the U.S. back ino the Space Race, but it came after 2 Soviet cosmonauts had already orbited in 1961. This international competition had been noted by Missiles and Rockets, The Missile/Space Weekly in their year-end editorial for December, 1961:

With still a long way to go, we now are back in the race with the Russians with the avowed intent of catching and passing them.

Eventually the U.S. did reach the Moon first (in 1969), but the irony of the current situation, where the U.S. must hitch a ride with the Russians to send its astronauts to the International Space Station, is not lost on Glenn:

Back in those days, one of the major driving forces in support of the program was the fact that we were in competition with the Soviets.

And yet here we are these 50 years later, (paying) 60-some million dollars per astronaut to go up there and back. And this is supposed to be the world’s greatest space-faring nation.

That part of how we’ve developed I don’t agree with at all. I don’t think the shuttle should have been canceled until we had a replacement for it.

The 1961-2 geopolitical chronology is amazing for its intensity and juxtaposition of several powerful wildcards and soon-to-be tipping points:
Click Geopolitical.Chron.1961.62

For example, the founding of the Peace Corps, the first human in space, and the Bay of Pigs invasion all occurred within about 6 weeks of each other. Within only 3 months of establishment of the Peace Corps the first American had gone into space, and JFK committed the U.S. to send men to the Moon and had offered to cooperate with the Soviets in a joint Moon program.

Six months after Glenn’s flight the Russians were building secret missile bases in Cuba which triggered the Cuban Mission Crisis in October, 1962. During this event Khruschev threatened a “world nuclear missile war.”

This type of rapid-fire, potentially threatening action is to be expected from a “critical state” after decades of self-organization of the international economic system. Something analogous to the early 1960s critical state — involving the Middle East, North Korea, and others — is apparently rippling through the world today.

Just as the 1960s Cold War led to the first Space Age, 200+ years of macroeconomic and technology development patterns suggest it’s likely the currently approaching “critical state” will trigger the new international Space Age.
CLICK: Are Stratfor’s “Generational Shifts” like “Falling Grains of Sand”?

No responses yet

Next »