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53 Years After Sputnik

It was 53 years ago that the world changed forever.

No, it wasn't the premier of Leave it to Beaver or the unveiling of the Avro Arrow that did it.

Close...but on this day in 1957 the Soviet Union successfully launched the unmanned Sputnik probe into space, shocking the world and jolting the US space program into high gear.

There's been a lot of talk about the implications of Sputnik and the down stream effects over the following decades. But one thing it reminds me of is an interesting NPR show I listened to on Oct. 1 with author Pat Duggins. The conversation focused on Mars and the Obama administration's plans to fly to an asteroid then on to the Red Planet by 2030 or some such. And it got me to thinking out moribund our space flight program is right now.

It's almost as if we've come full circle since Sputnik. The probe marked the beginning point of a massive surge in spacefaring technology and missions. But as we look at the event more than five decades after, we're seeing the steep decline in interest, innovation, motivation and funding that's, in a sense, taking us back to the position we were in at 1957 -- but for very different reasons.

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-- Christian

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