Friday, April 15, 2011

Thoughts on space, on the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first flight

This is a follow-up to my last post on Cosmists Knocking on Heaven’s Door on 50th Yuri's Night, and to my older Thoughts on space, on the 40th anniversary of the Moon landing. In the picture, the very nice banner appeared on Google's main search page on April 12.

Please read the two posts. A short summary of the main points:

The Cosmist thinking of Nikolai Fedorov and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky has inspired the daring and sexy space program of the 60s and early 70s.

Despite their scientific value, later phases of the space program have been dull, boring, uninspiring and less sexy than a washing machine. I have worked for many years in public space agencies, for example in ESA in the eighties and nineties.I used to say that the emphasis on cost-effective pragmatic mission with only a scientific return and no PR value would kill both public and political support for space, and the facts have given me reason.

We need new initiatives able to ignite the imagination of people, especially young people, all over the planet. In order to support spending money in space, people need to see other people in space taking risks to do momentous things. On this 50th Yuri's Night, we Cosmists and space enthusiasts should think of going back to space, back to the Moon, and onward to Mars and the stars.

But things are not going to change as long as the only actors are governments and industry. In today's world, the obsolete nation-states are part of the problem and not part of the solution. International organizations are paralyzed by power struggles between different national interests. And industry cannot be expected to see beyond next year's financials. Why not forming a global P2P space agency of the people, by the people, and for the people? Such a World Space Agency, whose members are not nation-states but individual citizens acting as a focused P2P laser (reference to The Millennial Project of Marshall T. Savage), could act in the best long-term interest of our species and prepare the way for its, our, journey to the stars.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cosmists Knocking on Heaven’s Door on 50th Yuri's Night

This show must not be missed, as a Cosmist and a space enthusiast I hope I will get a digital copy soon.

BBC - Knocking on Heaven's Door: April 12th 2011 is the fiftieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight into space, hailed by the Soviet Union as a triumph for socialist science over capitalism. But the true story is much stranger. George Carey's film shows how the Russian space programme was kick-started by a mystic who taught that science would make us immortal, and carried forward by a scientist who believed that we should evolve into super-humans who could leave our overcrowded planet to colonise the universe. Stranger still, Carey shows how those ideas have survived Communism and adapted themselves to the science of the modern world.

The Telegraph - Knocking on Heaven’s Door, film-maker George Carey explains the mystic secrets of the cosmos and the Soviet space programme: The man some people say is the true father of space travel in Russia was not a scientist at all, but a reclusive mystic who was the illegitimate son of a prince called Gagarin. His followers today say the name is not coincidental - because it was that mystic, Nikolai Fedorov, who set Russians on course for Yuri’s moment of glory. In the 19th century, Darwinism and modern science seemed like enemies of God. But Fedorov came up with an extraordinary counter-suggestion: that science was a tool given to us by God to enable us to resurrect the dead and, as promised, enjoy immortal life. And, with curious practicality, he added that because the Earth could not sustain a population that never died, we must first learn to conquer space... the person who really injected his philosophy - known as Cosmism - into the bloodstream of Russian science was an unknown teenager (Konstantin Tsiolkovsky) who turned up in that library one day looking for advice about what to read... [Danila Medvedev] calls himself a Transhumanist, and believes that he will achieve his own immortality by uploading his personality into cyberspace.

As the article says, Cosmist thinking has inspired the daring space program of the 60s and early 70s. On this 50th Yuri's Night, we Cosmists and space enthusiasts should think of going back to space, back to the Moon, and onward to Mars and the stars.