The 1979 James Bond film Moonraker, which I watched again tonight, reminds us of a space program that was then exciting and new, and which has now been left to wilt on the vine by a U.S. government that seems more bent on war than on exploration.

Moonraker, written by Ian Fleming in 1954, was due to be filmed in ’73, but was not shot and released until 1979. Its release preceded the Space Shuttle by 2 years, though the film featured not less than six of the shuttles, and the manned space station featured in the film was not actually started until the core section was assembled in space in 1998.

The film also featured the supersonic Concorde passenger plane, showing a BA plane landing in Rio. The Rio service, via Paris, began in 1976, and the Concorde, of which 25 were built, flew from 1969 to 2000. Thus, the Space Shuttle and the Concorde featured in this 32 year-old movie, are no more, and only the Space Station, which began 19 years after the film and is not due to be finished until next year, remains. It is expected to fly until 2020, and possibly 2028, and maybe there will be a U.S. spacecraft capable of shuttling to it again before then.

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