Science: The Cruise of the Vostok

  • Share
  • Read Later

(9 of 9)

Human Triumph. Even if the deadly Russian-American rivalry that now supports most space research should die out, men will surely continue their struggle to escape from their own globe. For in the end, space victories do not belong to any particular nation. They are achievements of the science and technology of the human species, the result of man's urge to explore the unknown.

When the Vostok circled the earth, it got its impetus not from Russian science alone. Built into its structure were Brit ish, German, American, French, even Chinese and ancient Egyptian ideas. Russian scientists have often said as much, and they did so again last week. Said an official Soviet Government and Communist Party announcement: "We regard these victories in the conquest of outer space not only as the achievement of our people but as an achievement of all mankind." However chagrined U.S. scientists felt last week, they also partook of the Russian triumph.

Most scientists around the world think that Major Gagarin and the good ship Vostok have opened a door that will never entirely close. Space exploration may slow down for a while or stop, but the human species is young, and it is the bumptious master of a fruitful planet. More men will always yearn to travel in Major Gagarin's wake, to see the blue band around the curve of the earth. Eventually, perhaps 10, 100, or 1,000 years from now, a great spaceship will carry men far out in the solar system. They will learn whether the moon and the planets have value as real estate. They may tinker with the offensive atmosphere of Venus, perhaps making it suitable for human breathing. They may develop human subtypes that will enjoy Venus as it is. They may learn to live in space itself, cruising the solar system in artificial, mobile planets. Human civilization is only 7,000 years old, and countless years lie ahead. But wherever future adventurers travel, whatever they find in the black, cold reaches of space, they will always remember the pair that preceded them—the Vostok and Major Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin.

* The ceremonies were shown live on European TV by the Eurovision network. Showings in the U.S. were from tape flown across the Atlantic by jet.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. Next Page