(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit, February 23, 2012)
My first recollection of space flight was the splash landing of the Apollo vehicle at the completion of the Apollo-Soyuz docking. In retrospect, that splash landing closed the book on several different aspects of the American space program. The mission was the official end of the Apollo program, the massive engineering effort that united a country to put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. The mission signified the end of the space race with the Soviet Union that started almost 20 years before with the launch of Sputnik. But most significantly, Apollo-Soyuz marked the end of the golden age of space flight, a period defined by engineering achievement that greatly expanded the limits of mankind’s creativity and innovation, ultimately resulting in a triumph over the forces of gravity.
This week we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned orbital flight. On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth. At the time, the United States was trailing the Soviet Union in the space race, the Russians having posted two orbital flights prior to Glenn’s mission. Friendship 7 put the United States back in the game and turned John Glenn into a national hero. While John Glenn became the face of the space program throughout the successful Gemini and Apollo programs, he never again flew into space during his time with NASA. In 1998 at the age of 77, U.S. Senator John Glenn returned to space aboard the Space Shuttle.)
As we stand 50 years distant from the Friendship 7 flight, we are confronted with one of the great ironies in our space faring history. While the United States spent the first twenty years of the space race trying to overcome and surpass the space program of the Soviet Union, our country must now pay the Russians $60 million per astronaut to hitch a ride to International Space Station.
Closer to Earth, rumors on the iPad 3 are starting to pick up steam. Most technology talking heads are predicting an April release of the next “Greatest iPad Ever!” Some of the more popular rumors regarding the tech specs of the new iPad include:
- Pictures posted on MacRumors indicate that the pixel density, and likewise the resolution, is twice that of the existing iPad.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is engaged with suppliers regarding a smaller screen. This seems to correlate with other rumors indicating that three different tiers of iPads will be available.
- The iPad 3 should have 4G network capability.
Until next time, I’ll see you on the internet! @gregory_a_baker L8R.