Space has always been something that has completely enthralled me. I can sit and think and think about space and all that we know and do not know about space, and lose total track of time. Space has always been something of great interest to me because there is so much we don't know.
I've always had a thing for space adventure movies, which is probably why Star Wars (the original trilogy) so captured my imagination as a kid. Star Wars was my first foray into what space was, and from there I was hooked. The only space movie I remember absolutely hating was Aliens, yes, Aliens. For whatever odd reason that movie freaked me out when I was a kid. So much so that I remember my mom and my brother watching it and it being the only movie in my life where I got upset and asked them to turn it off because it actually scared me. I was pretty young at that time, it just didn't sit right with me. I'm not much a fan of the space-horror variety of film, but more so space adventure, hence the love of Star Wars. Recently,
I watched Christopher Nolan's new mind-bender, Interstellar. The ending is really something of a mind-bender, so be ready for that, by the way. But I really think it's a brilliant film and a worthy contribution to the library of space adventure movies. Movies like Interstellar and Gravity take their lumps because they end up skirting some of the known scientific principles of space and space travel, but that's what you do with science-fiction; you take liberties with the science in order to tell a story. Interstellar actually employs quite a bit of real science, which was made possible by the contribution of one Kip Thorne, theoretical physicist, who is really regarded for his for his contributions in gravitational physics and astrophysics. And while the science of the film, and space in general, is really interesting and compelling, it wasn't so much the science that made me stop and think, it was something the movies main character, Cooper, said that made me think, again, about the exploration of space and it seems that we've somewhat abandoned it, to some degree. Not completely, but to some degree.
We are actually caretakers of this planet; we're to tend to it and care for it, so that part I sort of disagree with, but the rest of that quote is really fascinating to me. I think of that quote in light of the space race. For some, the Space Race of the 50s-70s was a political match: Russia vs. The United States of America. There was a lot of fear when Russia launched Sputnik (the first satellite) into orbit that they had equipped it with lasers and all that jazz. Then it morphed into a political flexing contest to see which nation could make it into space and onto the moon first. Ultimately, the U.S. won that race when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon back in 1969 with Apollo 11, but the Space Race from a purely scientific standpoint is amazingly inspiring. For the folks actually tasked with sending up manned flights into space and putting a man on the moon... it was high risk, high reward, world-changing science. For them it wasn't about the political posturing, it was about exploring the next frontier that is space. It was about learning about the limits of our understanding of the cosmos and pushing further than we'd ever been before. For the astronauts involved, it was about pushing themselves and mankind out further than we'd ever been. And, some paid a high price for that opportunity with their lives.
The amazing thing about the Space Race was just how much it captures the imagination. You look at those photographs from the first manned missions into outer space, the landing on the moon, and it's just amazing. It creates some crazy sense of wonderment, or, at least, it should.
Keep your imagination.