Michael Benson

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de abril de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

NASA’s newest marvel, a one-ton rover named Curiosity, has been set down with all the delicacy of a carton of eggs on the surface of Mars. The perfect landing came after a complex series of automated maneuvers that had been tagged the “seven minutes of terror,” but that in the end were executed so flawlessly as to render the mission’s Earthly handlers speechless with relief. There wasn’t even a single error to report.

On such evidence it could easily seem that planetary exploration is in the full bloom of vigorous good health under American leadership, thank you very much. There’s little doubt that during the last decade the genre of robotic space exploration has reached an apex of achievement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fifty years ago Tuesday, an obscure Soviet Air Force lieutenant named Yuri Gagarin climbed onboard an eminently conventional form of transport — a converted city bus — and headed toward another order of vehicle altogether: a towering rocket, on top of which was mounted a gleaming spherical Vostok capsule encased in a pointed fairing.

According to Soviet media, upon exiting at the launch pad Gagarin made a spontaneous speech stuffed with patriotic fervor. Except it didn’t happen: His ghost-written oration had been taped in Moscow weeks earlier and only broadcast later that day. What he really did was order the driver to stop on its way to the pad, exit, and relieve himself on the rear tire.…  Seguir leyendo »