The Space Race and Big Expectations (New & Old Space, part 1)

New Space is a term that, loosely, describes new trends in the space industry.

Mostly, it is NOT Old Space.

Old Space is the name for the way things have been done in the space industry, since its inception, or shortly since: government driven innovation and government funding. Old Space got going during the Space Race.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared that the United States would put a man on the moon. Four years earlier the USSR already had launched the Sputnik, the first ‘artificial satellite’ – a man-made object that orbits a bigger object in space. And in 1961, the USSR also put the first human being in space – Yuri Gagarin.The US was behind, and feared it would loose the space race, a high-stakes competition during the Cold War.

See here an excerpt from JFK’s inspiring speech:

However, once the US put its brightest minds, including the great Wernher von Braun, on it, and added quite a bit of money, the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration achieved its goal to land humans on the moon in 1969, only eight years after the speech of JFK.

On July 20th of that year Neil Amstrong, and Buzz Aldrin, stepped on the moon, planted the Star Spangled Banner on its surface, a feat not repeated by any other nation up to the present. (Unfortunately JFK was no longer alive during the culmination of the events he put in motion, because of an horrible assassination.)

A great video series about this whole episode in history is From the Earth to the Moon, narrated by Tom Hanks.

During this era, expectations went through the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. It was a time in which Americans, and also other peoples, experienced optimism about what the future of mankind could bring, despite the threat of nuclear war that was always on the back of their minds.

As the years progressed it became more and more apparent that mankind would not venture onwards to other celestial bodies quite as fast.

Stay tuned for part 2!