In the cinematic history of spaceflight, we have sent people to alien worlds; some get eaten, others enslaved, and still others conquer and roll on. Closer to home, we gloried in the Space Race with the Soviets – remembering the brave men who went into orbit, the women who calculated the math to put them there, and even described the perils that exist with all the debris that circles the Earth from sixty years of launches.
Technology advances. Laika, a Russian dog from the streets of Moscow was conscripted into the Soviet space program. First animal in space (it was a one way trip sadly). Americans launched a chimpanzee. After men went into orbit and to the moon, women joined them piloting shuttles, and commanding space stations and so on. We sent bugs; we sent mice; however, it seems the chimpanzees and the dogs are a little reticent about the space program since they were the first intentional guinea pigs.
Yesterday, the world’s most advanced satellite went into orbit. While the capacity and speed of communications available to more of the world is mind-blowing, I wonder how many dog and cat videos per second will be now possible to stream from the Atacama desert in South America to a Boeing 777 in the middle of the North Atlantic? Or the real-time feed of a weather cam from the summit of Mount Everest to a farm in Mound City, Missouri?
At least no dogs were harmed in the making of this launch. But the more important question remains: If the technology to move data to and from space is now so advanced, how long before the “Star Trek transporter” gets invented? Does a scientist somewhere have a prototype – and looking for a test dog volunteer? There’s more than a few canines that will be AWOL when that happens.