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WE’RE FALLING BEHIND!
At the dawn of the space age, it hardly occurred to anyone that, just half a century later, society would feel quite the opposite about space exploration: “Why do we need space, anyway? There are already a lot of problems on Earth that urgently need solutions!” To understand the level of enthusiasm and scale of humanity’s hopes at the time, we suggest looking back at the predictions of the legendary futurist and writer Arthur C. Clarke, made in 1999: in 2014, no orbital hotels were opened; in 2015, we still hadn’t invented technology for transmuting chemical elements; in 2020, we haven’t yet managed to launch an automated probe to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun; and in 2021, it is unlikely that we will land on Mars. Since the previous forecasts have fared so dramatically, we shouldn’t expect any solar-powered aircraft for interstellar travel by the end of the 21st century.
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (1917–2008) was a British writer, scientist, and futurist. Together with Stanley Kubrick, he worked on creating the script for the cult film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Arthur C. Clarke along with Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein are known as the “Big Three” of the science fiction genre of English-language literature.
In reality, over the past six decades of the space age, there have been no qualitative leaps forward in space flight technology. The modern field of astronautics cannot boast of anything so impressive in terms of innovation and significance as, for example, the breakthrough of jet propulsion in aviation in the 1960s. In fact, so far we’ve only managed to more or less master near-Earth space by using developments from half a century ago.