Ancestors of Apollo
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This spring marks the 50th anniversary of the first space flight and the beginning of the race to land a man on the Moon less than a decade later. This feat was possible in large part because humankind was fully prepared to imagine such a mission, but it was not always so. It took centuries for thought about our world and universe to develop sufficiently to conceive of such a mission. The author identifies the philosophers (and fiction writers) and their ideas that expanded our horizons, starting even before Copernicus and Galileo. It turns out that space travel is as remarkable a mental accomplishment as it is a technical one.