The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Space: Possibilities and Ambitions Unlimited: Part I—Missed Opportunity

 Space: Possibilities and Ambitions Unlimited: Part I—Missed Opportunity

By Tim Krenz

In recorded history, whether by archaeological or written accounts, humanity has always thought and dreamed beyond the practical limits of the circumstances of survival. We need our imagination, as well as sleeping dreams, to balance current demands with the subconscious desire to expand beyond the drudgery of working today in order to live slightly better tomorrow. Looking up to the sky, those dreamy heavens of stars and wonder, we might not know who, how or what invented us or the universe; nor do we know what or when fate awaits us in it. But we can assume that as long as humans have lived on earth, some men and women of imagination and in their dreams have speculated on the immensity above and the limitless possibilities of what we can know and do down here, and up there.

With these things apparent, humanity’s short history and long-term future inevitably rapture themselves in the bigger questions of the universe. Discounting the theological and eschatological arguments of beginnings and endings, the other questions persistently enlarge and require more research, experiment, testing, and result. Even if humanity and its future in the “really big place” we call the universe finds no truly definitive answers, the expansion of knowledge, capabilities, plans, and achievements for bettering human existence will go on into the future, as it applies to life on earth and humanity in outer space.

Looking back on the last one hundred years, the world had emerged from the First World War and the global failure to avoid avoidable mistakes in politics and culture. Even in the prosperity of the 1920s, the impact of losses that war incurred by humanity’s inconceivable cruelty to each other killed away a generation of hopes, intellect, potential geniuses. These people the world could have better used alive, to live in peace and prosperity. The number of doctors, scientists, even artists, and entrepreneurs lost with their potential to help the world (or hurt it more, in balanced honesty), still has not exactly redeemed itself. Yet, hopes and dreams of people like Jules Verne from the 19th Century, or the insights and horrors of H.G. Wells, remained inspirations to the select who believed humanity could go to the space above the earth. An American inventor, Robert Goddard, began and continued his critical early work on ballistic rocketry. And a conflicted and soon-controversial man of genius and talent, the German Wernher von Braun began to see his definitive visions for exploring above the atmosphere take practical shape and experiment in the 1930s. Whether professionals or lay people, people working in laboratories, or in social clubs—from Russia, Germany, England and the United States, thinkers and dreamers everywhere began to assemble and implement the vital ingredients and recipes necessary to someday get men (not women at the time) off the earth and into space orbit and beyond.

When, at the end of the 1930s, the mistakes made at the end of the last war paid a diabolical interest on the principle of errors, propelling humanity into another and more destructive conflict, the Second World War. It would become a war even more intensive and deadly, from the contributions that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics applied to make and use weapons of more power and lethal. An evil genius revival for ill took place in order to kill and destroy on scales far grander than ever seen before in history. Even so, the tools that people invented to peacefully put man in space—someday in the future—became instruments of terror and doom.

Using the support of the Nazi state, Dr. Wernher von Braun headed the technical portion of rocket and ballistic missile research for the German Army, to produce a missile, eventually the Aggregat (A)-4, later re-designated the V-2, (for “Vergeltungswaffe,” meaning roughly “revenge weapon” in German). Along with Luftwaffe’s V-1 rocket-motored cruise missile, Germany used thousands of these vengeance weapons in the final 11 months of the Second World War in Europe against Allied cities, ports, and other targets. With rather primitive guidance systems on this generation of rockets, and because of restricted conventional weapons payloads, (the V-2 carried roughly a ton of high explosives), the weapons had little practical tactical impact in the war. Even considering it as a strategic psychological weapon, it mostly served as an operational diversion. In terms of political policy, however, it created significant possibilities. Assuming material and other forthcoming technical improvements and advances, as research and development would undoubtedly achieve, warfare in the missile age put anywhere on the globe at risk of long-distance attack and at increasingly shorter times. What honestly started as a thought and a dream for peaceful attempts to put humanity toward a greater goal, suddenly became instruments of Armageddon, once the technology for another new weapon of science, nuclear bombs, made those feasible to combine them with rockets.

As with politics at the end of the Second World War, humanity stood at a possible threshold and turning point, if not the most critical one so far in history. What happened?

In politics, the world in the last years of the 1940 and through most of the 1950s very well needed to come to terms with its sins, to find some accommodation to end wars and take care of its people, and to take care of the only planet it has on which to live. Instead of giving the people peace and amity, political and economic elites reaped their bitter fruits and relapsed into fear and greed. They produced a cold war, and repeated similar mistakes committed at the end of the First World War.

On the same coin, at the end of the second war, scientists had cracked the codes to orbital ballistics, and made space travel theoretically reachable, and had invented nuclear power, making cheap energy obtainable. Those two achievements could have combined to put humanity into a space age, earlier, better, fuller, and with better consequences for everyone and the earth. A Space Civilization might even have put humanity at more, if not complete, peaceful coexistence. No one will know, though. When history and humankind reach thresholds and turning points, decisions can get made wrongly, and events then have irreversible and irrevocable consequences. Instead of rockets and nuclear power for space and peace, leaders produced political division backed by rockets and nuclear power created into thermonuclear ballistic weapons, at unimaginable financial costs, the dividends of which could eventually end all life on earth.

But the story of “Space: Possibilities and Ambitions Unlimited” continues….see the next part coming soon.