The human race has an insatiable hunger for energy. Down through the ages humanity has found new sources for energy and exploited them ruthlessly. Our use of fossil fuels to power our civilization has resulted in changes to the climate that may render large areas of the Earth uninhabitable.
When I was a kid, the portrayal of space ships showed them landing on their tails. Up until recently, every launch just threw away the engines and boosters. This made the cost of launching a package into orbit very expense. Recently SpaceX has developed the capability to land the launch vehicle back on its tail so it can be reused.
The Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace 1 in Chinese) was the first space station launched by China. It was carried into orbit in September of 2011 aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket. It served as a manned laboratory and “experimental testbed to demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities.” It is thirty five feet long and eleven feet in diameter.
Sixty years ago on October 4th, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite, and triggered the Space Race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. The Sputnik satellite was sent into orbit by a Soyuz rocket. Since that historical launch, the Soyuz family of rockets was the workhorse for the Soviet space program, and, since the fall of the U.S.S.R.
The releationship between U.S. and Russia has been deteriorating as investigations into Russian meddling in our last presidential election have proceeded. However, there is one area where cooperation has continued and is even expanding. That is in the exploration of space. The U.S.