FUN FACT:

The space race actually had tenuous public support at best. It was considered wasteful by many.

Going to the moon had far from universal support; many people thought it was a frivolous partisan dream, or that it was a waste of time to "one-up" the Russians.

@Elizafox Interesting. I find it curious that the Americas declared the space race as won, even though USSR was in space first and going to the moon was then simply an act of moving the goal post. Tremendously wasteful at that, as you say.

I can see the benefit of going into space generally, but how going to the moon is useful I am not sure, especially if the journey was never repeated. I am curious if there will be another moon mission at some point in the future...

@mareklach I mean it's useful in a sense that it's a good training ground "in our own backyard," but overall, in 1969, we weren't going to colonise the moon. It was a morale boost and nothing more.

@Elizafox @mareklach unlike the launching of satellites, which are genuinely useful things for a lot of purposes, although maybe USA wanted something that was "theirs allone" rather than shared with "socialist" public sector PTT organisations (such as UK GPO and PTT FR) and nationalised state broadcasters , as Telstar was already operational by 1962..

@vfrmedia @Elizafox Right. Launching of satellites (for GPS and spying) was genuinely useful to them.

@mareklach @vfrmedia In fairness, GPS has huge benefits to the public. It just sucks that it's under control of the US gov't.

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@Elizafox @vfrmedia It has huge public benefits now, although it only exists because of a need to spy on citizens.

@mareklach @vfrmedia In fairness, at the time of its invention it definitely was not terribly useful for this purpose since communication is unilateral (and it would actually be very bad to have that capability for defense reasons, obviously).

Remember, ubiquitous cellphone networks didn't exist, and the idea of using data like that was far from mature.

@vfrmedia @mareklach In fact, in the early days of the program, the precision offered to the public was extremely low (only tens to hundreds of meters at best), since it was at first "The System Only We Get To Use™" and anything else was a fringe benefit.

@Elizafox @mareklach I obtained a GPS in late 1990s to use for plotting rave locations and distinctly remember when the accuracy suddenly improved (you still used it with a traditional Ordnance survey map as those were still copyright and there wasn't enough RAM or graphics capability in the device for anything else..)

@mareklach @Elizafox and Europe is switching on Galileo this year because EU (understandably) does not want to become dependent on GPS or GLONASS (RU), and both of which have been subject to jamming/disruption of various levels (to the point many people in RU and nearby were having transport problems themselves due to deliberate GNSS falsification that is sometimes switched on to protect VIPs),

@vfrmedia @Elizafox I heard about Galileo Positioning System.

Do you think we can expect smartphones with it this year already?

@Elizafox @mareklach some devices are already available and the system is operational but with a weak signal (as only about half the satellites are in orbit)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_

@vfrmedia @Elizafox I found this:

'By 2018, Galileo will be found in every new type-approved vehicle sold in Europe'.

And...

'Galileo smartphone by Spanish technology company BQ is already on the market.'

But here's more info:

usegalileo.eu/EN/inner.html#da

@mareklach @vfrmedia I knew some stuff already supported it, but I didn't think it was gonna be ready for a bit.

@Elizafox @vfrmedia So apparently we can expect it in the iPhone through a software update at some point as all the necessary hardware sensors are already there... that's kind of neat.

@Elizafox @vfrmedia Yeah, it's talked about through the grapevine for years now, hopefully it launches before it gets cancelled. I know there was talk about abandoning it at one point, but that would be foolish... Europe should make a stand of their own at least once in a while, regardless if the US government gets upset. Galileo could be a significant independent step to prove North Korea wrong that EU countries are not always just America's puppet forces :-)

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