Today, ambitious space programs are beyond the reach of most countries, and so cooperation, not competition, is the name of the game.
With the launching of the Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in November 1957, the world entered what became known as the space age, an era of rapid development and great advances in technology and the sciences, particularly rocketry and cybernetics.
Back then it was a race for primacy between the United States and the Soviet Union, reflecting the political rivalry between the two countries. During that race, Russia launched the first satellite, as well as the first manned orbital flight, while the United States achieved the first lunar landing and the first human walk on the moon, considered to be one of the defining moments of the 20th century.
Today, ambitious space programs are beyond the reach of most countries, and so cooperation, not competition, is the name of the game. On January 9th, the United States hosted the International Space Exploration Forum, a meeting of some 35 space-faring nations that is dedicated to building political support for global cooperation in space exploration.
Speaking before this unprecedented gathering, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said that “Space exploration fuels economic growth. It spurs scientific and technological innovation. It inspires our young people. And at a relatively modest financial investment, it provides direct, real, and lasting benefits in nearly every aspect of modern-day life – from public health and safety to energy and information technology:”
“The question facing us today is whether we can muster the courage and political will to advance space exploration and ensure that cooperation continues to trump competition. If we do that – if we choose to put our collective strength behind cooperative efforts rather than competing efforts – the opportunities are as vast as the solar system itself.”
“Space exploration is not just the preoccupation of scientists and astronauts but a vital undertaking for all those who wish to advance the cause of global peace and prosperity,” said Deputy Secretary of State Burns.
“Now is the time to come together to make space exploration a shared global priority, to unlock the mysteries of the universe, and to accelerate human progress here on earth.
“I am confident that we will advance further, faster, if we work collectively.”