Many thinkers maintain that the world changes at an accelerated speed and that our time is the most convulsive in history. But if you turn your eyes half a century ago, it is hard not to consider the present as soporific before the epic of that time. Fifty years ago, the Soviet Union, encouraged in part by the triumph of Sputnik of 1957, he still believed that he could present a real alternative to the capitalist system and some believed he could prove it by winning the race to the moon. However, at Christmas 1968, that dream began to fall apart thousands of kilometers from Earth when Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders first reached the orbit of our satellite on board the Apollo 8.
Fifty years later, it is unlikely that those men or their Soviet rivals could have predicted the course of the space race. During the following decades, with the exception of the handful of Apollo missions, the human being did not surpass the Earth's low orbit and the Russians did not even reach the Moon. The uses and customs of the guild have also changed. On Christmas Eve 68, Borman, Lovell and Anders read a fragment of the Bible for the first televised program from space. A few months ago, Elon Musk, the best-known face of the new space race, smoked a live joint during a radio show.
The fall of the USSR left the Russian space program faltering, but the inertia achieved during that golden period has kept this country among the leaders of the astronautics race. However, some analysts fear that the homeland of Laika, Yuri Gagarin or Valentina Tereshkova is about to fall into irrelevance. A few weeks ago, Russia announced a plan to build a colony on the Moon in the 2040s. At a time of renewed interest for the satellite, with a Chinese robot newly landed on its hidden side, the old power wants to maintain its status, but it does not seem to have enough strength.
In an interview with the newspaper Pravda and translated by Ars TechnicaValery Ryumin, a veteran cosmonaut who spent 362 days in space at Russian space stations Salyut-6 and Mir, questioned Russian plans to send astronauts to the moon in the next decade for lack of money: "Lately, leaders they are more dedicated to selling smoke than to doing something substantial. " Ryumin, who has worked as an engineer at RSC Energy, one of the leading Russian aerospace companies, also considered plans to build Federation, a capsule with which to send cosmonauts into space, unworkable. "Even if we build Federation, we have no way of launching it into space," he said. "There is only the realization that we need to build a new ship and a new rocket [para lanzarla], but there is nothing but words. We have given ourselves a task, but not means to fulfill it, "he concluded.
Fifty years ago, the Soviet Union, encouraged in part by the triumph of Sputnik of 1957, he still believed that he could present a real alternative to the capitalist system and some believed he could prove it by winning the race to the Moon
In recent months, Roscosmos and the Russian space program have made headlines for two technical problems. In October, a ship Soyuz with two astronauts on board had to make an emergency landing after a miss in the rocket with which it was launched. In August, a hole in a Russian module on the International Space Station produced an oxygen leak that some Roscosmos officials blamed on sabotage by American astronomers. In the end, the signs point to a blunder of RSC Energia who wanted to hide his responsibility, something that would have happened at other times.
CBC News, a public space in Canada, the country of one of the first astronauts to fly on a Soyuz after the accident, recalled in a recent article a Kremlin audit that can explain some of the financial and production problems of the Russian space program. Speaking to the RIA Novosti agency, the director of the Chamber of Accounts of Russia, said they have "great problems with Roscosmos." "Several billion rubles have been stolen [decenas de millones de euros] and there is an investigation underway. " In total, there are more than 200 people involved in various inquiries, which include the sale of low quality products. The largest of the crimes investigated is an alleged embezzlement of 152 million dollars in the construction project of the Vostochny cosmodrome, in the far east of the country.
Half a century after the beginning of the end of the space race, the return to the Moon does not have the same symbolic interest it had in the sixties and reaching Mars would require a huge investment that places the feat in a rather nebulous future. In this new panorama, those in charge of reconstructing the epic story can do so from trenches with names similar to those of the time but that show everything that has changed the world since 1968. On the capitalist side, next to NASA, winner of the first Space race, compete other winners of the new economy as Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, or Elon Musk, creator of PayPal. From communism, China, its most successful mutation, where 50 years ago the cultural revolution kept universities closed and paralyzed technological development.