What do Ptolemy and ancient Chinese rockets have in common? Without either of these things, space flight wouldn't be possible! In order to understand how we started traveling amongst the stars, we have to talk about how we started studying stars in the first place. Since the very first civilizations we've always looked at the night sky with wonder & curiosity but also as a way to try and understand the future and time itself.
As the Renaissance breathes new life into Europe, Copernicus develops mathematical proofs for the sun resting in the center of the universe. And from his works, a new world is born. The scientific world gets faster and faster. Revolutions of all kinds begin to set off chains of events that reshape human history. And as science improves, so do the tools of war. Both will be necessary to propel humanity to the stars. Join us on this race through the scientific works between the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution.
Early flight started as a utopian dream but quickly became the military's top priority: first as reconnaissance vehicles, and then as weapons in their own right. After WW1, the threat of German aircraft led to the Treaty of Versailles banning Germany from having an airforce at all. But the Germans also found a loophole: rockets didn't count as an airforce. Enter Wehrner Von Braun & the V-2 rockets.
While rockets had been proven to be indispensable to the Second World War, the idea to send people up into orbit was still seen as fantasy. Space was important only as a method to further the range of missiles meant to land oceans away from their original launch point. But a man named Korolev will change all of that, with work so secretive, he will be referred to as Chief Designer for nearly his entire life. But we all know the name of his first project into space: Sputnik.
The United States was losing the space race. A number of unfortunate missteps and mistakes had hindered their progress. But the United States had also structured its space program entirely differently from the USSR. Instead of being helmed by the military, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration was created by Eisenhower with an emphasis on exploration and research. And in the end, the later but more advanced satellites will collect the data required a dream firmly placed in the American consciousness by JFK. A dream to place a man on the moon.
What happened after we touched down on the moon? And where are we going in the future? While we may have lost the glitz and glamor of the Space Race, we have continued to make incredible progress in reaching the stars. We've come together to build space stations while in space, create the international space station, and started developing new technologies that could take us to Mars and beyond.