There were wry remarks about Jupiter coming under the watchful eye of Juno, earlier this month. These appeared in news stories about the then impending arrival of the Juno spacecraft at the planet Jupiter. The remarks were double entendres regarding the ancient Roman Goddess Juno as the wife of her reputedly philandering husband, the Roman God Jupiter.
All yuks aside, the insertion of the spacecraft into orbit around the Solar System’s largest Planet was hailed as a major accomplishment and milestone in Space exploration. The event is also yet another reason for us to celebrate today’s very special holiday, Space Exploration Day.
If you were alive and aware on July 20, 1969 you were probably concentrating your attention on the first human landing on the Moon. Many people remember where they were, and who they were with when Neil Armstrong readied himself to descend from the landing craft and make his first footprints on the lunar surface.
Baby Boomer folks who are around my age are of the first generation to grow up in the age of Space exploration. We have dim memories of hearing about Yuri Gagarin being launched aboard Vostok One by the Soviet Union on April 12, 1961 for one orbit around the Earth. The event was the first major milestone to follow the Sputnik 1 launch in 1957. The first Sputnik is commonly thought of as the real beginning of the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Thereafter, nearly every early American Space milestone received televised coverage. Less than a month following Gagarin’s historic flight, the US launched their first human passenger, Alan Shepard, into sub-orbital flight inside a Mercury Capsule. Most memorable were American John Glenn’s three orbits around the Earth on February 20, 1962.
We might remember the numerous other milestones of Space exploration like the Shuttle Program, the Mars Rover, the ongoing research aboard the International Space Station, and the many automated craft being sent to other planets by the US and other nations. It’s becoming difficult for the average layperson to keep track of the Space Missions taking place these days.
Space Exploration Day aka Moon Day promotes the continued exploration of Outer Space. Ever since 1984, the holiday has been a time to remember the momentous flights of the past, where we are presently, and the planned flights of the future.
If the sky is clear, tonight, we can gaze skyward and take in the waning Full Moon, along with countless stars and galaxies. We can marvel at how long it takes for a spacecraft to travel to Pluto and most recently to Jupiter. Space Exploration is a commendable human endeavor that allows us to learn more about the Universe and causes us to dream really big dreams.
Thanks to Роскосмос (Roscosmos) and NASA for background information.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes astronaut Buzz Aldrin. “Retain the vision for space exploration. If we turn our backs on the vision again, we’re going to have to live in a secondary position in human space flight for the rest of the century.”