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.

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