posted on Jan, 8 2008 @ 03:20 AM
ASTRONAUTICS AND ITS APPLICATIONS PDF page 8
B. GENERAL NATURE OF ASRONAUTICS
Even in its present early and uncertain state, astronautics can be
seen to have important implications for a very wide variety of human
In tile most immediate and practical sense, astronautics is a very large engineering job. Equipments and facilities, often requiring substantial
advances over current practice, must be designed and built. Severe environmental conditions and demands for high reliability over very long periods of
essentially unattended operation will require uncompromising thoroughness and extensive testing.
Bold imagination and painstaking attention to detail must be the twin hallmarks of engineering for space flight.
Engineering action can be founded only on scientific knowledge. The scientist must support the engineer with adequate data on the many aspects of
space environments, and with a growing body of fundamental knowledge. As a primary end product, astronautics can furnish unparalleled new
opportunities to the scientist to explore and understand man and his universe. Space vehicles can carry the scientist's instruments and eventually
the scientist himself-to regions otherwise not accessible to gather information otherwise unattainable. The life sciences are presented with two
particularly challenging facets of astronautics: the problem of maintaining human existence outside the narrow living zone at the earth's surface,
and the possibility of encountering living things on other planets. The departure of man and his machines from the very Earth itself is bound to have
a profound influence on human thought and the general view of man's place in the scheme of things. His findings on other worlds can be expected to
influence the broad development of philosophy to a degree comparable to that resulting from the invention of the telescope, whereby man discovered
that he was not actually the center of the universe. Perhaps astronautics will show man that he is also not alone in the
These and other aspects of the revolutionary nature of extraterrestrial exploration have prompted serious theological discussion. Implications of
space flight with respect to Christian principles are matters of lively interest.
As early as September 1956, Pope Pius XII formally stated that space activities are in no way contradictory to Church doctrine.
The statesman, endeavoring to promote world peace, can see both a hope and a threat in astronautics. International cooperation in space enterprises
could help to promote trust and understanding. Astronautics can provide physical means to aid international inspection and, thereby, can help in the
progress toward disarmament and the prevention of surprise attack. Astronautics can also lead to military systems which, once developed and deployed,
may make hopes of disarmament, arms control, or inspection immeasurably more difficult of realization.
International cooperation in astronautics is imperative simply as a matter of efficiency. Scientific space exploration cannot reasonably be an
international science clearly demonstrates the point. Observation of natural celestial bodies, which (as viewed from the Earth) are permanent and
relatively slow moving, has required the closest kind of
nternational collaboration. The observation (not to mention creation and retrieval) of artificial celestial bodies, transient and fast moving will
place even heavier, more urgent, demands on international co-operation. There s also obvious need for international cooperation in such matters as
agreement on radio frequency allocations for space vehicles; and on rights of access to, and egress from, national territories for recovery of
vehicles, particularly in cases of accidentally misplaced landings of manned vehicles.
Astronautics raises substantial questions of law, both international and local. The important issues of international agreement on space access and
utilization must be afforded the most thoughtful sort of attention. Legal factors of a more conventional nature are also inherent in astronautics.
Large tracts of real estate will be required for operations
and testing, for example. The physical needs of astronautics are,
therefore, a matter of important concern also to the civic planner somewhat in the manner of airports and marine facilities.
Astronautics is inherently a high-cost activity that will clearly have an important impact on Government expenditures, taxes, corporate profits, and
personal incomes. It may for the future, hold considerable promise of substantial economic benefits-astronautics is an entire new industry. In
astronautics lies the possibility of improved performance in important public and commercial service activities; weather forecasting, aids to
navigation and communication, aerial mapping, geological surveys, forest-fire warning, iceberg patrol, and other such functions.
For national security and military operations astronautics holds more than new means for implementing standard operations like reconnaissance and
bombing. It suggests novel capabilities of such magnitude that entirely new concepts of military action will have to be developed to exploit them. As
an obvious parallel, airplane technology has come a long way since Kitty Hawk; but the military thinking that determines the role of aircraft in
national arsenals has also come a very long way indeed. A similar companion development of technology and military concepts can be expected to occur
in astronautics also but we can no longer afford the comparatively leisurely pace of adjustment that characterized the thinking about aircraft.
Astronautics has another important military dimension if "military"
s interpreted in the broad sense of an organized, trained, and disciplined activity. It is hard to conceive of space exploration efforts such as
manned voyages to Mars, involving many months of hazard and hardship, being undertaken by any but a "military" type of organization.
Astronautics is the sort of activity in which anyone can find means for satisfying personal participation. The work of amateurs in optical and radio
observation of satellites has already been of great value, and there is no reason to believe that amateur activities in astronautics will not take up
a place alongside and within such vigorous hobbies as amateur radio and amateur astronomy.