NATIONS of the world are racing to send the first man-made satellite revolving in an endless orbit around the earth. In the hands of an agressor, such a machine might mean slavery for all mankind, but as a police unit of the United Nations, it holds a promise of world peace.
Back in the closing days of 1948, when Secretary of Defense James Forrestal disclosed the existence of an “earth satellite vehicle program,” the press and public reacted with a gasp of incredulous amazement. For the first time, responsible officials had dared to admit that they were seriously investigating the fantastic dreams of Sunday-supplement screwballs!
To those in the know, however, the news was no surprise. The snowballing mass of scientific data on the space around us was no great secret. The problems involved in space travel —physical, engineering and human —were being methodically tackled and licked. Rocket designers’ slip-sticks were getting hot. Astronomers were calculating take-off ellipses and orbits. Physicists were feeding figures into vast mechanical brains and medical specialists were busy with the human angle.
Then, under the pressure of political crises, the furor was forgotten. No further news was forthcoming and, space wise, John Q. Public went back to sleep.