The Future of Space Exploration

From Scientific American:

Space When people talk about a moment being burned into memory, they usually mean it in a negative way: President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Princess Diana’s fatal car crash, 9/11. The launch of Sputnik 50 years ago this month was different. It certainly had its negative side: no one likes to wake up to find that your nuclear adversary has thrown a shiny ball over your head and that you can’t do a thing about it. But the dawn of the Space Age was also a hopeful event. Visionaries celebrated humanity’s long-awaited climb out of its cradle, and pragmatists soon savored the benefits of communications and weather satellites. Many of today’s scientists and engineers trace their life’s passions to that fast-moving dot in the night sky.

“In his millennia of looking at the stars, man has never faced so exciting a challenge as the year 1957 has suddenly thrust upon him,” astronomers Fred L. Whipple and J. Allen Hynek wrote in the December 1957 issue of Scientific American.

The evolution of the space program continues to be dramatic. In a decade or so, it will be hardly recognizable.

More here.