I am a ‘Sputnik’, born in the year the Soviet satellite launched the Cold War into space. The launching by the Russians of the first artificial Earth satellite on 4 October 1957 seemed to many in the West a threatening symbol of escalating superpower rivalry. And it did unleash extreme military anxiety and triggered what became known as the Space Race. Twelve years later, in the mid-winter of 1969, I remember waking up just before midnight to watch on television as a Saturn V US rocket, wreathed in smoke and flame, inched its way off the ground at Cape Canaveral. It powered mightily against the pull of gravity and triumphed. It was beginning its journey out of Earth’s atmosphere towards the Moon.
Coming of age in the great acceleration
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Tom Griffiths is the W.K. Hancock Professor of History at the Australian National University. His prize-winning books include Hunters and Collectors, Forests of Ash and Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica. His latest book, The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their Craft, was released by Black Inc. in July 2016.
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