Skip to main content

The Dream of Space

We owe much of what has been achieved in space exploration to visionaries like Arthur C. Clarke, Wernher von Braun, and the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. After 50 years, many elements of the original vision have been achieved, some have failed, and there have been more than a few surprises.

More than 50 years ago, visionaries like the British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke and the German (and American) rocket engineer Wernher von Braun laid out a series of steps for the journey into space. Clark presented his vision in a 1951 book The Exploration of Space and von Braun’s proposals appeared in a series of Collier’s magazine articles published between 1952 and 1954.

A few years later – indeed, 50 years ago this week – the Soviet Union launched the first earth orbiting satellite, inaugurating the space age. After 50 years, many elements of the original vision have been achieved, some have failed, and there have been more than a few surprises.

Clarke and von Braun encountered a wall of skepticism when their proposals first appeared. The public viewed space travel as science fiction, a form of popular entertainment thought to have little chance of realization.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/of96ulV;
  1. palacio101_Artur Debat Getty Images_earthspaceshadow Artur Debat/Getty Images

    Europe on a Geopolitical Fault Line

    Ana Palacio

    China has begun to build a parallel international order, centered on itself. If the European Union aids in its construction – even just by positioning itself on the fault line between China and the United States – it risks toppling key pillars of its own edifice and, eventually, collapsing altogether.

    1
  2. rajan59_Drew AngererGetty Images_trumpplanewinterice Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Is Economic Winter Coming?

    Raghuram G. Rajan

    Now that the old rules governing macroeconomic cycles no longer seem to apply, it remains to be seen what might cause the next recession in the United States. But if recent history is our guide, the biggest threat stems not from the US Federal Reserve or any one sector of the economy, but rather from the White House.

    0
  3. eichengreen134_Ryan PyleCorbis via Getty Images_chinamanbuildinghallway Ryan Pyle/Corbis via Getty Images

    Will China Confront a Revolution of Rising Expectations?

    Barry Eichengreen

    Amid much discussion of the challenges facing the Chinese economy, the line-up of usual suspects typically excludes the most worrying scenario of all: popular unrest. While skeptics would contend that widespread protest against the regime and its policies is unlikely, events elsewhere suggest that China is not immune.

    3
  4. GettyImages-1185850541 Scott Peterson/Getty Images

    Power to the People?

    Aryeh Neier

    From Beirut to Hong Kong to Santiago, governments are eager to bring an end to mass demonstrations. But, in the absence of greater institutional responsiveness to popular grievances and demands, people are unlikely to stay home.

    1

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions