Friday, September 21, 2007

Space Age Top 10

I picked up the October 2007 issue of Sky at Night, the BBC’s astronomy magazine. I like this magazine, and it’s a bit cheaper here (£4.25 or about $8.50) than in the US where I have bought it occasionally anyway for the articles and the included CD (this one features a video of a brief 1970 interview with Neil Armstrong on BBC television, among other videos and other content). This issue celebrates 50 years of the Space Age, and one of the features is a list of the 50 “pivotal moments” of the space age, manned and unmanned, good news and bad. In case you're curious, here’s their top 10:

1. First satellite, Sputnik 1 (4 October 1957)
2. First human in orbit, Yuri Gagarin (12 April 1961)
3. First humans on the Moon, Armstrong and Aldrin (20 July 1969)
4. First humans to orbit the Moon, Apollo 8 (24 December 1968)
5. Loss of the shuttle Challenger (28 January 1986)
6. Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope (24 April 1990)
7. First US satellite, Explorer 1 (31 January 1958)
8. First rover on Mars, Pathfinder/Sojourner (4 July 1997)
9. First woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova (16 June 1963)
10. Launch of Voyager 2 for the outer planets (20 August 1977)

While such lists are always somewhat subjective, this top 10 seems pretty reasonable to me, except perhaps for putting Pathfinder before Viking 1 landing on Mars (#23, 20 July 1976), based on the public response to the 1997 mission, which was the first to make images immediately available through the web. It's sad that the destruction of the Challenger makes the top 10 while the first shuttle launch is down at #26 (12 April 1981), but the Challenger loss was certainly a more "pivotal" moment in space age history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Astroprof did his seven wonders, and I put together a top-ten in response:

Cassini and Galileo I rated pretty high, but Sputnik 1 didn't really register for me.

Nice blog, btw.