Monday, April 11, 2011

"Get A Move On!"

Tomorrow's Yuri Gagarin day; his famous line is usually rendered in English as "Let's Go!" but all you have to do is look at contemporary photographs to see a fellow not terribly different from the Mercury Seven: physically fit, able to tolerate discomfort without griping and eager to do the thing.

Countdown, with its halts and instructions to check this and readjust that, was no different for him than any American astronaut (maybe worse-- he had to reseat the hatch!) and I can easily imagine any pilot cheering his spacecraft on as the appointed moment arrived.

The Russians were first in space thanks to a clever, dangerous re-entry procedure: Gagarin bailed out at a high altitude; while his capsule thudded down (and picked up quite a dent), he drifted to Earth under a parachute. While this isn't quite by FAI rules (pilot's supposed to take off and land in the same vehicle), I've always thought it made the achievement even more impressive. (It appears that this was SOP for every Vostok flight).

50 years ago tomorrow, the human race slipped out of this planet's atmosphere for the first time. The space race that ensued managed not only to push us out to the Moon but to give the superpowers a kind of substitute for war.

15 comments:

North said...

And now: *sigh* I don't have to wear shades for this future.

North said...

Not that I'll give up _that_ hope

docjim505 said...

I thought myself quite the space buff, but I didn't know that Yuri and the rest had to hit the silk to get back down. The things you learn...

Thanks.

JohnMXL said...

(Cue "Coast To Coast AM" theme)

Another benefit from the space race was the creation of a legitimate channel from which to release all of the captured UFO technology!

Oh, wait...those were weather balloons filled with swamp gas reflecting Venus...

Bubblehead Les. said...

Too bad we're getting close to the 30th Anniversary of when the Human Race decided to quit the effort to go beyond the Moon (Apollo 17). Oh well, just think of all those poor staving Masses of future Voters whose pitiful Lives were saved by gutting that EVIL NASA year after year after year.....

Dr.D said...

I recall being in a heat-power lab the day John Glenn made his sub-orbital shot. We were doing an experiment on a steam engine. We suspended the experiment, with the engine still running, and went off to listen to the radio while Glenn's shot was launched, in space, and back down in the ocean. After they initiated the recovery, we went back to the steam engine to finish the experiment.

Justthisguy said...

Read recent posts and letters at Jerry Pournelle's site about the death of Komarov and the still-not-adequately explained circumstances of Gagarin's death. The Unwanted Blog has a link to the story, with a pick of Gagarin and Komarov being best buddies out in the field with their shotguns.

Justthisguy said...

Umm, that's "pic", not "pick."

Further, why the hell is Jerry not on your blogroll? He is arguably The Man Who Won the Cold War, you know.

Roberta X said...

It seemed presumptous to link to Pournelle -- and redundant.

Justthisguy said...

OT: I am just posting this comment on inspiration from the WV, which is "snagge." That would be a good nickname for mah kitteh, due to his lacking his starboard upper fang.

I sometimes say to people, "You've heard of the Saber-Toothed Cat? Well, I have a Snaggle-Toothed Cat!"

It gives him a very cute and endearing facial expression, and did not seem to hinder his killin' abilities, before he retired.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that today is the 30th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle mission, STS-1.

Roberta X said...

Yep. ...Well, they're gone now and while I admire the men and women who made 'em work ad rode them to orbit, the Shuttle had designed-in problems, which tended to be swept under the rug until they killed crews.

Per Richard Feynman, the engineers gave the Shuttle main engines the same one-in-200 odds of catastrophic failure as the solid fuel boosters -- and their bosses just added a few zeros to the "200" to make it look better.

Space flight isn't safe but faking the odds is idiotic.

Justthisguy said...

Oh yeah Roberta, when Challenger went in, Mike Collins the Lonesome Astronaut (who lives nearby) immediately suspected a turbopump failure on the SSMEs, that being the most-highly-stressed part which he knew about. It did not occur to him that those people were killed by stupidity and politics.

Sigh! Those of us of the technical persuasion often have no idea of how stupid and dishonest our usual bosses, the normal bullying monkey-men, can be.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. If my comment just above makes me seem somewhat autistic, well, Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First had his Cromwell, and the normals may profit by their example.

There are lots of neurally-divergent folk with Web presences who are armed and otherwise know how to handle themselves if a dis-agreement turns physical.

Justthisguy said...

P.S. Yah I know the monkey-people outnumber us 99 to 1. I was just venting my feelings, above, after having imbibed a sizeable snoot-full.