Conquering Space Has Transcended Political Differences; the Science Museum's New Exhibition Tells the Russian Side of the Story of Humanity's Greatest Achievement

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 11, 2015 | Go to article overview

Conquering Space Has Transcended Political Differences; the Science Museum's New Exhibition Tells the Russian Side of the Story of Humanity's Greatest Achievement


Byline: Roger Highfield

WHEN another millennium or two has passed there's no doubt in my mind about what historians of the future will highlight as the most significant event of the 20th century, one that sent out shockwaves across culture, from art and science to politics and technology too.

It is that gravity-defying moment that humans first ventured beyond the confines of their home world to launch the next great phase of exploration. Our efforts to capture and record that moment perfectly illustrate the profound role of culture to soar above politics, along with the enduring legacy of the Cold War.

The space age dawned on October 4, 1957, with the "beep-beep" of a little silver sphere, the Soviet Union's Sputnik 1, and was followed by the launch of an assortment of stray Moscow street dogs, before the first spaceman and spacewoman, Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova, made headlines around the world in 1961 and 1963.

Those epic events will be celebrated next month at the Science Museum with our autumn blockbuster exhibition Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, which will recount this greatest of human adventures through original spacecraft, memorabilia and works of art.

I don't want to downplay the significance of America's Apollo programme. If I could name my favourite inspirational object currently on show in the museum it would be the Apollo 10 command module, launched in the dress rehearsal for the Moon landings. Every time I look at this brown, burnt and cracked spacecraft it seems even more amazing today, in 2015, that it got within a few miles of the Moon than it did to short-trousered me back in May 1969, when it blasted off.

But there's a much deeper, richer narrative to be found in Cosmonauts. Many trace the ancestry of modern rocketry back to Peenemunde in Nazi Germany, where the first long-range guided ballistic missile, the V-2 rocket, was developed and used to attack London, falling out of the sky at more than twice the speed of sound.

However, the real story dates back much further than this harbinger of the Cold War missile age, to the late 1800s and the rise of the Cosmists, a Russian movement that meditated on the origin, evolution and future of the cosmos and humankind. Their roots can in turn be traced back much further, to Ancient Greece.

One Russian who was gripped by this philosophy was the polymath Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935), who is often portrayed as the grandfather of Soviet space travel. He was inspired by a dream that still strikes a deep chord: that space travel would allow humanity to abandon an Earth that has been ravaged by natural catastrophes. He dreamt of international space stations as early as the 1890s and in 1903 was the first to calculate it was possible to reach outer space using liquid-propellant rockets.

Russia's October revolution of 1917 not only saw the revitalisation of its literary and artistic scene but a renaissance of sciences too. A decade later, in Moscow, on Tsiolkovsky's 70th birthday, the Association of Inventors and Inventists opened "The World's First Exhibition of Interplanetary Equipment, Mechanisms and Historical Materials". …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Conquering Space Has Transcended Political Differences; the Science Museum's New Exhibition Tells the Russian Side of the Story of Humanity's Greatest Achievement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.