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24 January 2019


1983 vs 2019: how Isaac Asimov described SpaceWay

Thinkers and writers have always dreamed of a better, ideal society and living in harmony with nature. Even 2.5 thousand years ago, Plato, seeing all the imperfection of Athens, was searching for the ideal world, which was embodied in Atlantis. Later, the ideas of the Renaissance were expressed in the "Utopia" by Thomas More. Science fiction writers of New and Newest Age also looked for solutions to actual problems in their works, now turning to science and technology in their search for solutions. They "invented" a pocket phone (1948), a self-tuning receiver (1942), a car capable of parking itself (1941), solar batteries (1940) and much more earlier than science and technology have reached such a level of development that would allow to realize these ideas in life.

There were also more global problems that worried people, for example, the negative influence of man on nature. In fact, the literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries reflects the fear of mankind of itself — of uncontrolled population growth, the dangerous development of technology and the destruction of the environment. The population growth rates of the planet exceed the rates of civilization development; today about 1 billion people live below the poverty line, even more of them no longer have access to high-quality products and water. And we continue to roll our planet under asphalt, poisoning the earth with thousands of tons of toxic waste. The situation will not change by itself. A solution to such global problems is being developed by the SkyWay project — an integrated approach includes not only the creation of an elevated transportation system of a new formation, but also the development of the General Planetary Vehicle, as well as work on a number of agrotechnological and informational projects.

The idea of Anatoly Yunitskiy in many ways echoes the reflections on the future by the great science fiction writer, popularizer of science and the author of the three laws of robotics Isaac Asimov. He told about the disastrous consequences of the development of civilization in an interview with Star edition 35 years ago, a decade after the idea of the General Planetary Vehicle had originated.

Anatoly Yunitskiy - General Planetary Vehicle

In his predictions for 2019, he notes that the population will continue to grow actively, governments will not be able to escape from the fact that no global problem can be solved until the situation is only aggravated by population growth. The consequences of human irresponsibility will become increasingly obvious and unbearable, attempts to cope with this will become more intense. As Isaac Asimov noted 35 years ago, humanity can only hope that by 2019, advances in technology will bring into our hands the tools that will help speed up the process by which environmental degradation will be reversed. The tools that the great science fiction writer speaks about are computerization technologies, changes in the education system and industrial space exploration.

"And although it seems incredibly optimistic to assume that the world can change in this direction within just 35 years (of course, only by changing and not necessarily fully achieving this change), the last ingredient should be added to this dish: use of space ..."

The role of the global space project for Asimov (as well as for Yunitskiy) is much wider than the mere transportation of goods from the Earth to the orbit:

"Such structures themselves will be a guarantee of world peace and further cooperation between nations. Energy will be so necessary for everyone and so freely delivered only if the nations maintain peace and work together, and the war becomes simply unthinkable — precisely at the request of the people. In addition, observatories will be built in space. They will immeasurably expand our knowledge of the universe; as well as laboratories where people would be able to conduct experiments that may be unsafe or impossible on the Earth's surface."

In the main thing — the need for the industrialization of space — the thoughts of Anatoly Yunitskiy and Isaac Asimov converge:

"The most important in practical terms would be the construction of factories that could use the specific properties of the outer space: high and low temperatures, hard radiation. Unlimited vacuum and zero gravity —l to create objects that can be difficult or impossible to make on Earth."

Of course, Asimov went too far with optimism about the timing on the implementation of the idea to develop near space. It is still far to the construction of space settlements, although the project — SpaceWay — is already being developed.

"In fact, there may even appear projects to launch entire industries into orbit in 2019. Then the Earth will be able to get rid of the side effects from industrialization, and without actually losing its necessary advantages. The plants will disappear, but not far away, having moved only a few thousand miles up. And humanity, but not only its buildings, will eventually settle up in space. The first space settlement should already have been designed and possibly under construction by 2019."

From the ancient Greeks to Isaac Asimov, science fiction writers have always motivated and guided the development of science and technology. Many of their ideas have already been implemented, even more of them — should be realized. One of such ideas is the General Planetary Vehicle. Work on its implementation is already underway, and, as history shows, even such a bold project is destined to come true: if there is a problem, there will be a solution.

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