Thursday, October 4, 2007

Space Exploration

TGIT - Thank Gagarin It’s Thursday

Yes we have to thank the Reds (not Cincinnati) for today’s episode of TT. It is exactly 50 years ago today that space exploration began. The USSR launched Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957.,2933,298728,00.html This 180 pound payload sat atop a R7 Rocket. Sputnik did nothing except send some radio noise back to earth

For the non baby boomers who never looked at the sky in October 1957 to view the flight path of Sputnik, Gagarin was the first person to go into space Gagarin was selected because of his small stature. He was only 5 foot 2 inches tall.

Actually the object that was visible in the night sky that Hunting for Red October was not Sputnik (it was simply too small) but was the second stage of the rocket that launched Sputnik.


How much fuel was used to place the little noise maker in orbit? The Russian website lists the specification of 253 metric tons of propellant. The propellant was kerosene the same fuel used by jets. A pound of kerosene has a fuel value of approximately 19,000 BTUs. Therefore approximately 10.5 billion BTUS were needed to set the space race in motion. This amount of energy is equivalent to 92,000 gallons of gasoline or enough gasoline for the average US motorist to drive for over 125 years.

We continue the space race and have launched many more satellites that now clutter the near space around earth. But Sputnik was the first and that is why we remember it.

Talking about space and time, we have a report on how much time commuters waste in traffic. Los Angeles leads the US in wasting time in traffic jams with each motorist wasting 72 hours each year. San Francisco is not far behind. Gagarin only spent one hour and 48 minutes in space so we all should get the medal of the soviet empire for the long time we spend cooped up in our capsules. In total we Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic wasting 2.9 billion gallons of gasoline crawling bumper to bumper. This amount of wasted gasoline could have launched over 31,500 sputniks. I therefore suggest a solution to this waste of time, money and precious BTUs. Let’s carpool! If we halve the number of vehicles on the road in rush hour we will not waste 3 days a year stuck on the freeways in the city of angels. Next week I will discuss how it is better for the earth and your pocketbook to buy a Corolla and carpool than buying a Prius and driving on your own to work.

The word of the day is redoubtable. I do believe that the accomplishment of Yuri Gagarin remains redoubtable.

redoubtable \rih-DOW-tuh-buhl\, adjective:1. Arousing fear or alarm; formidable.2. Illustrious; eminent; worthy of respect or honor.
He had been particularly involved in and articulate over policy toward East Asia, stressing the threat from China after the Communists won power there in 1949, and had made dramatic impressions of competence and coolness on two occasions -- under the physical threat of a crowd in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1958, and in a dramatic kitchen debate in the Soviet Union in 1959 with the redoubtable Nikita Khrushchev.-- William Bundy,
A Tangled Web
The prospect was daunting, not least because Evelyn was still a redoubtable figure on campus whom I saw almost every day and to whom I went for advice almost as regularly.-- Keith Stewart Thomson, The Common But Less Frequent Loon and Other Essays
At the head of the table, as committee chair, sat the redoubtable Howard Mumford Jones—a teacher famed even at Harvard for his fierce authority, his wide-ranging erudition, and his intolerant exacting preciseness.-- Nicholas Delbanco, The Lost Suitcase
Redoubtable derives from Old French redouter, "to dread," from Medieval Latin redubitare, "to fear," literally "to doubt back at," from Latin re- + dubitare, "to doubt."


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