Friday, August 06, 2004

History Friday: August 6th 1961: Russian cosmonaut spends day in space

Today of course marks the 59th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb and the killing of 140,000 of Hiroshima's 350,000 residents with one weapon. A reminder then that the United States is the only country to ever deploy a weapon of mass destruction against a civillian target; chemical agents and biological weapons, while evil, are not mass-destructive but rather are weapons of mass psychological destruction (few casualtiesas a % of population, widespread panic.)

But I'm not going to talk about the horrors of humanity on this sunny day, but rather the hope that comes from George Mallory's "Because it's there" mentality. Why climb Everest? Why play sport? Why go to space?:
August 6, 1961: Russian cosmonaut spends day in space

As a boy I was the proud owner of a poster showing in pictures the milestones of space exploration from both sides of the Iron Curtain (it came free in a box of Weetabix cereal; those well known pinko fellow traveler wheat rusks), a bar of astronaut ice cream, and a book of schematics for the space shuttle. None of it did any good in regards to my grasp of mathematics or physics, but I miss those glory days of Soyuz and Spacelab, of Viking and Mir, of tethered space walks and the Saturn V.

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