The Spaceship Earth

  • Jacques Arnould
Part of the Studies in Space Policy book series (STUDSPACE, volume 6)


At the end of the 19th century in Russia, Konstantin Tsiolkowsky imagined the precursors of our rockets and wrote the following, as previously quoted: “Earth is the cradle of Humanity; but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever”. Did the passing of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century prove him right? There is nothing to confirm this. Certainly, his compatriots, as Soviets, became the firsts to send a human being into circumterrestrial space and the Americans planted their flag on the surface of the Moon. Through its representatives, the cosmonauts, astronauts and taikonauts, mankind had effectively ventured out of its cradle. But for how long? Several days, several months, at the most. How far? From the Earth to the Moon, at best. Still a long way off, perhaps even unreachable, is the moment when mankind, reduced to a group of pioneers, will be able to definitively leave its terrestrial cradle, to pursue its singular odyssey elsewhere. The Earth, once the cradle of mankind, would become the spaceship with humans making up part of the crew, the boat which they must salute, and also the prison from which they might never be able to escape. Astronomer Fred Hoyle had, it seemed, predicted this contradiction, this opposition to Tsiolkowsky’s prophecy, even before the success of Sputnik and Gagarin’s inaugural flight. In 1948, he wrote: “Once a photograph of the Earth taken from the outside if available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be set loose”.31 What idea is he referring to? Maybe that the drama of mankind would now take place on a planetary and not cosmic stage, that of the Earth, now in its globality observed, understood, even mastered.


Celestial Body Geostationary Orbit State Sovereignty Major Disaster Geostationary Earth Orbit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    Taken from Russell, Peter. La Terre s’éveille: les sauts évolutifs de Gaïa. Barret-le-Bas: Editions Le souffle d’or, 1989: 19.Google Scholar
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    De Certeau, Michel. L’invention du quotidien. I. Arts de faire. Paris: Gallimard, 1980: 140.Google Scholar
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    Debray, Régis. Vie et mort de l’image. 179–180.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacques Arnould
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre National d’Etudes SpatialesParisFrance

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