TABLE OF CONTENTS
2.0 MEDIA DYNAMISM IN THE SPACE RACE
3.0 SPACE TECHNOLOGY AND THE MODERN WORLD (Global Perspective)
4.0 NIGERIA IN SPACE AND THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA
We live in a restless planet that is geographically too vast and diverse for human understanding. Yet, our curiosity and interest to fully understand the earth environment in which we live have continued to grow. Through the ages of research, man has been able to unravel the science of the Earth’s solid outer shell and liquid or mobile inner core. The ever-changing interplay of the variety of natural phenomena, ranging from landscapes brought about by earthquakes, volcanic eruption, floods and hurricanes, all of which are of daily interest and concern to the World’s inhabitants.
However, one may be tempted to believe that the dynamism and intricacies of the Earth have brought into focus the submission of Socrates that “man must rise above the Earth to the top of the atmosphere and beyond for only then will he fully understand the World in which he lives”. To Socrates, the Earth holds an enormous potential for human survival and require much more understanding, both in terms of the development and management of its resources, as well as the monitoring and management of its environment. Socrates dream or vision became a reality when the first satellite, SPUTNIK-1, was launched into space by Soviet Union (USSR) on 4th October, 1957.
Satellites could be best described as new eyes in space to see and understand the World better. It helps to improve the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. It also helps to avert famine and other natural disasters and can be used to locate mineral deposits in the soil as well as lost ancient cities. Above all, it has greatly assisted in making the society much better and conducive for humanity.
Since the launch of SPUTNIK-1, the impact of space technology on various aspects of human endeavour has been growing. There is no gainsaying the fact that exploration and exploitation of space resources have become dominant factors in warfare, communications, national security, natural resources and environmental management, prediction and management of natural disaster among others.
According to NASA National Space Science Data Centre (NSSDC) Master catalogue, over 40,000 tracked objects including about 7000 satellites had been launched into space environment and sustained in their orbits by laws of Physics (Rabiu, 2015). As at today, over 1,000 operating satellites orbit the Earth: about 59% of the satellites are used for communication, 8% for navigation and 7% for military surveillance.
In our quest for better life on earth, space scientists and engineers have been able to transcend beyond the terrestrial and found home in space (the extra-terrestrials) setting up varieties of satellites and even transit abode known as the International space station in space. The international space station was set up by US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in collaboration with European space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The Chinese space program is setting up a similar structure in space called “Shenzhou”.
Today, virtually all the technological systems of the world is being driven by space entity and space has no doubt unite the world through radical transformation as well as promotion of peace and sustainable development.
It must therefore be emphasised that space technology could save our world figuratively and literarily. Hence, it is no longer a luxury but indeed a necessity for all.
2.0 MEDIA DYNAMISM IN THE SPACE RACE
The main thrust of this paper is the catalytic role of the press in the global space race which reaffirms the unique functions of the press as a powerful tool for education, enlightenment and distribution of information in any society. As the mouth piece of the society, the press is responsible for ensuring that the audience or the populace is kept abreast of happenings from time to time. These unique roles enabled members of this noble profession to possess the power of agenda setting across the globe, thereby playing a very significant role in dictating the nature of development in the society. Usually, the media dictates the development of ideas and innovations by highlighting the benefits of such and to this end, the press can be applauded for its various crucial roles in the society, in not only conveying messages or disseminating information to geographically dispersed audience, but also prompting action and intervention through opinion formation and reinforcement of issues.
It is indeed an undisputable fact that Journalism played an important role in the development of space technology in global history. This started with near real-time reporting on the various cold war and other related events. Journalists were instrumental in propagating the space age that was marked by intense space technology competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. The famous launch of the Sputnik satellite marked the beginning of the space race that saw rapid technological development in the various parts of the world. The United States felt threatened by the Sputnik and made the necessary steps to counter the ‘threat’. But while the United States was trying to neutralize the effect of Sputnik, they realised new space frontier that could be explored. And in 1969, the United States pioneered the cause of history to become the first country in the world to send astronauts to the moon. This development caused media frenzy of its kind in the United States and many other countries in the world. Besides, the space race led to developments of various space related technologies, such as rocketry that have found use with military for missiles launch and civil transportation to space. All these developments were promoted by media reports and analysis of the various events as they unfold.
Therefore, space journalism remains a strategic part of the media that has played a very crucial role in global affairs and its noble contributions in the promotion of space science and technology will continue to loom large in human history, particularly in the realm of technological revolution across the globe.
The civilized European powers and United States of America engaged in technology driven economy and scientific discoveries, which led to the development of weapons of mass destruction and fast warships as each country funded weaponry manufacturers, scientists, and engineers in the area of research and development (R&D). While there are many technological development that have emerged from war and which have been adopted for civil use, space technology stands out as one of the post-second world war technologies that has been shaped through journalism.
The space age was no doubt ushered in by the cold war era, but one fundamental point is the fact that the media spurred it through reporting and analysis on the tussle between the United States and the then Soviet Union. The reports by the media on the space capabilities of each side led to the drive for Nations to develop their space capacities. Hence, the advent of space journalism in media practice. It is pertinent to note that, the greatest contribution of the media in the development of space science was the focus on technology, while the United States and the Soviet Union were focusing on the need to become the “first to”, the media was reporting on how the space technologies were evolving.
The space development turned into some kind of contest with journalists reporting on every new development and innovation. And, for the American Journalists, the driving factor was that, the Soviets were winning the space battle. Hence the advancements in technology and space exploration that we see today can be attributed to the attempts by the United States to catch up with the Soviet Union.
Space technology altered the educational system and the imagination of individuals in Nebraska and other regions of the United States. Shortly after the Soviets had launched Sputnik, American Journalists proposed to the American education system to lay more emphasis on science and mathematics. This led to the government of United States appropriating more money to enable schools and educators focus on science and mathematics.
Again, the most historic space event through the media was the establishment of the Hubble Space Telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit (LEO) in April 24, 1990 which gave scientists the ability to get more insights into the celestial bodies and their embedded implications. The space age was further defined by the design, build and use of rockets.
With critical analysis and submissions, the press through space journalism has made it possible for humanity to come to term with the reality that space exploration has shaped our worldviews in more ways than one. The impact of seeing the Earth from space, focused our energies on the home planet in unprecedented ways, dramatically affecting our relationship to the natural world and our appreciation of the greater community of mankind, and prompting a revolution in our understanding of the Earth as a living system.
Through space journalism, the idea of space exploration has been woven into the fabric of society in the past fifty years, even as exploration has raised our cosmic consciousness. The historical analysis of that transformation, in ways large and small has helped make informed choices about the future of space and also enabled the society to do things that have never been done before.
- Quote paper
- Dr. Felix Babatunde Ale (Author), 2020, Unveiling the catalytic Role of the Press and its Potentials to Mankind, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/981604