Science flourished during the European Renaissance. Copernicus was an astronomer and mathematician. As a student, he studied the law of mathematics and medicine, then became interested in astronomy. He published an early description of a heliocentric model of the universe, where the sun was in the middle of our solar system. By postulating only the rotation of earth's revolution around the sun and the tilt of earths rotational axis, Copernicus could explain the observed motion of the heavens.
Science fiction is essential to our creation. Arthur C. Clarke's 1976 novel, The Fountains of Paradise. This novel was set in the 22nd century, it describes the construction of a space elevator. An orbital tower, giant structure rising from ground and linking with a satellite station in a geo stationary orbit. Such a structure would be used to raise payloads to orbit without using rockets, making it much more cost effective. David Smitherman of NASA has compiled plans for such an elevator. The idea of ribbon made of carbon nano tube stretching from earth into space hauling cargo and passengers into space orbit.
Contemporary space age developments started after WW2. In October 1957, the Soviet Union launched first satellite named Sputnik. Sputnik was no larger than a beach ball and sent meaningless signals back to earth. Russian engineers wanted to make sure people could see and hear it. It was polished so people could see it with the naked eye, and it broadcast “beep beep” pattern that could be picked up by amateur radio operators around the world.
Russians were the first to have a dog test what it's like to have a living being in space. Laika, a 3 year old stray mut was selected. She was covered in alcohol solution painted with iodine and several spots so sensors could be placed on her, to monitor her heart beat, blood pressure and other bodily functions to better understand any changes in space. She did not live beyond 6 days.
From 2003 to present, we are seeing huge changes from public to private exploration into space. May 1996 X prize, $10 million prize for first non governmental organization to launch a re-usable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. Prize was won on October 4th, 2004, by Tier 1 project financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
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