When space giant John Logsdon took his seat in July 1969 to witness the launch of the Apollo 11 rocket, it was part of the global race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
It was a symbolic struggle to show the excellence of its own political system, one of the many manifestations of the Cold War. But even among private actors, expectations were already high in the air – the dream of space travel for ordinary people.
– Pan American Airlines, which no longer exists, was already taking reservations for lunar travel. So I signed up, Logsdon recalls in this week’s episode of The Foreign Office.
Record number of trips to Mars
There was no Pan American space travel. But the advance of private actors is, according to Logsdon, one of the most impressive developments on the space front.
That, as well as the nation states that have not lost their role in this new space travel either. On the contrary: this month alone, unmanned expeditions from the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates will arrive in orbit around Mars.
It is a new international race and the clouds of security policy have grown. Victoria Samson, a space strategist at the Secure World Foundation think tank, describes how countries with a space presence also feel the need for an offensive capability in space, which she says can lead to an arms race.
“What is needed is for it to be safe and stable and for everyone to have access to space whenever they want,” she said.
– That’s a better goal to achieve. I don’t know if you too, but that’s what I’d like to see.
What can Sweden do?
Two countries in particular dominate today’s competition. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has been relatively sole masters of the field when it comes to national space programs. But today, China is determined to take a dominant position.
– They don’t want to lie behind anyone. They want to be the best in the world or at least equal, says Christer Fuglesang, director of the KTH space center and the first Swede in space.
– It has a very high national prestige, but it is also about technology and access to military security.
See the Foreign Office, which this week deals with the new struggle for space – who is there and why? Watch SVT Play here, or 10 p.m. Tuesday on SVT2.
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