Human Exploration of Space is 55 years Old Today

On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. The first human space flight lasted 108 minutes. He became an instant hero, as is right since it was an extremely risky voyage and he could have ended up dead. There are many unsung heroes in any such venture. I feel most for the person who was the chief designer of the space vehicle — Sergey Korolev (1907 -1966). Because of the secrecy of the Cold War, he worked without any recognition. The video below is about Gagarin’s historic flight. It recognizes the work of Korolev. Deep respect to both the heroes of the Soviet Union.

I find it remarkable how talented the people of the erstwhile Soviet Union were. Trouble was that even talent could not overcome the self-imposed handicap of communism. Remember that the Soviet Union was not a very large union — only around 200 million people around 1960. They were very successful in science and technology. But communism/socialism forges very heavy chains. Without freedom, even talented people fail. Slavery is always harmful and freedom always the key to prosperity. Too bad India continues to labor under socialist slavery.

2 thoughts on “Human Exploration of Space is 55 years Old Today

  1. @ “I find it remarkable how talented the people of the erstwhile Soviet Union were. Trouble was that even talent could not overcome the self-imposed handicap of communism… They were very successful in science and technology. But communism/socialism forges very heavy chains. Without freedom, even talented people fail. Slavery is always harmful and freedom always the key to prosperity.”

    To appreciate a 108 minute voyage into space when people these days routinely go and stay in space for months requires a keen sense of perception. It was a pioneering and singular achievement (of humanity) when it happened and does not age with time. I am trying to say that I share some of this wonderment. Thanks for the post on the first man in space.

    I was amused though when you took this opportunity to express your oft stated denouncement of communism and indicate the virtues of free markets or capitalism. To sate that people under communism are in slavery is extreme form of rhetoric, me thinks. Perhaps you could have saved those comments for some other time. Some one explained the importance of sputnik and Gagarin flight in space by putting in context that around 1956 and 1961, Soviet Union was barely out of the tremendous loss of people and property in WW II and for them to achieve such a feat is simply amazing.

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    1. P. Rao:

      Thanks for taking the trouble to comment. The achievement may be claimed by humanity but it is important to give credit where it is due — to the people of the USSR. They made the choices (based on their perceived national interests) and they spent the resources to make it happen. Humanity — that abstraction — did gain but it cannot be credited for the deed.

      I placed that achievement in the context I did because my primary concern is human freedom and what it enables. The stress was on how capable and talented the people of Russia (and the USSR) were and are. This fact must be kept in mind and then we need to ask why they are so unsuccessful in so many other respects. Comparing different social systems is important because it helps us understand what works and why. It is not merely an academic exercise. It has serious implications for human welfare. It is not some philosophical question that makes little difference in the lives of people. It means the difference between a person being warm and well-fed, and being hungry and cold. We need to learn the differences between systems to avoid making the mistakes that others did.

      Socialism and communism are attractive ideas — at least to many people. Unfortunately they don’t work as well as free markets. Let me pass over the definition of precisely what a free market is and how it differs from socialism. For now, let’s just compare countries that are “free market” and “socialist” and ask which ones are demonstrably better. To do that, we need to have some way of judging “better.” There may be very precise ways of doing that but for expediency let’s ask what people do when they have the freedom to choose between the two. Do people migrate out of free market system and go to socialist systems, or is it the other way around?

      The answer is clear and hardly admits any debate.

      I get on my hobby horse because I cannot stand the human tragedy that is brought upon by the absence of freedom.

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