Advanced space exploration with the actual launching of space shuttles, satellites, animals, and people beyond Earth’s atmosphere into outer space began when the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race following World War II. This competition between the two rival countries was instituted as a fight for power by seeing who could put the first space vehicle into orbit and land a man on the moon. During this time period between, 1957-1975, the Soviet Union was the first country to launch and orbit the artificial satellite Sputnik 1 into space in 1957, and later, the United States was the first country to land a man on the moon in 1969 (History of Space Exploration 3, 4).
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These initial space quests were a start to unraveling the mysteries of our universe. Although curiosity for the unknown, dark universe that surrounds planet Earth became heightened when the United States and the Soviet Union began developing space programs, it also led to an explosion of science-fiction genre.
Peaked interest in space exploration during the 20th century required engineers and innovators to construct space transportation vehicles which could overcome gravity and be launched into outer space. They built powerful rockets and space shuttles to transport astronauts and satellites into space and lunar rovers for traversing the moon’s surface for exploration. The first United States rocket was Jupiter C which launched the first scientific satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit on January 31st, 1958 (Military Origins 1). Many different types of satellites were constructed for numerous purposes. Artificial satellites were used to study the Earth, planets, and remote regions of the Universe. Weather satellites assisted meteorologists in predicting the weather, climate, and for tracking major storms like hurricanes. Likewise, Communication satellites were used for transmitting television signals and mobile phone calls around the world. Global positioning satellites were used by the military and civilians to help figure out exact locations on Earth. NASA has launched dozens of satellites into space, starting with the Explorer 1 satellite in 1958 to retrieve information to benefit mankind (Dunbar 2). In early science fiction novels, people claimed that they saw flying saucers or unidentified objects in the sky. Today, satellites have taken on the look of them. The rocket bears a close resemblance to Jules Verne’s space gun used to transport people to the moon in the 1865 science fiction novel From Earth to the Moon (From the Earth to the Moon 2). A lunar rover was carefully constructed and used for traveling over the moon’s surface of rocks and craters. It allowed for exploration of large regions of the moon that could not have been conquered by foot. The rover came equipped with a television camera, a radio-communications system and telemetry”all of which can be used to send data and report observations to team members on Earth (Nguyen 2).
Much of what was once only futuristic space talk by early science fiction writers became realized during and following the Space Age as innovators created space vehicles, advanced computer technologies, multipurpose satellites, and modern devices. Science and space exploration have caught up to science fiction in many ways, producing marvels beyond the imaginings of the visionary writers of the past. (Moskowitz 2) These speculative fiction authors published magazines, short stories, and novels that captured an audience of people interested in otherworldly types of travel to outer space destinations and use of ultramodern devices. The science fiction genre enabled society to dream about what their future might one day hold for them. It allowed people to envision their lives in a more interesting, exciting, and convenient light. Many fascinating science fiction discoveries portrayed in these early and later publications do exist today some of which include: instant messaging as seen on a computer in the movie, Pretty in Pink (Galazka 1). Three dimensional printers now used for making various items such as tools, jewelry, and body parts can be compared to the replicator device seen in the Star Trek television show (2). The present day I-pad may have been first inspired by the Star Trek PADD and Google Glass modern ocular technology somewhat replicates Star Trek’s virtual display device which allowed the evil Dominion to see outside their ships with just a turn of the head (2 3). In addition, the Back to the Future hoverboard was created and became the hoverboard which is for sale today to consumers (14). Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451’s seashell radio, worn as thimble radios in the ears, became our present-day in-ear headphones (9). Clara Moskowitz stated, Yet there are staples of science fiction that current technology is still leagues away from attaining, and which some doubt can never be achieved (Moskowitz 2).
Because people witnessed amazing scientific technologies and events come to life during the Space Age, they became believers that dreams could become reality. This set off an explosion of science books and movies that set the world on fire. Historically, science fiction literature began with the pulp era of the 1920’s and 1930’s. This included mostly pulp fiction magazines that contained alien invasions, rocket ships, colonization of the moon and planets, and flying saucers. This was followed by the Golden Age of science fiction from 1938 to 1946 when it gained popularity. Renowned classic science fiction writers of that time included Ray Bradbury who wrote the Martain Chronicles about the colonization of Mars by humans. The books published before the Space Race may have given rise to ideas for new technologies including space vehicles, satellites, and advanced computers. Next, many of the pulp magazines were discontinued as result of the real-life science stories became more popular to read. Surprisingly, not long after the short period of decline in science fiction sales, its popularity rose to unbelievable proportions. Writers once again imagined even more remarkable space innovations, which led to several multimillion-dollar science fiction movies made to astonish audiences. Since the year 2000, science fiction’s popularity increased to even more astronomical levels. Audiences cam to love the special effects of science fiction movie thrillers that allowed new worlds and technologies to come to life.
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