John Cunningham (Solidarity 603) points out that the USSR space programme was primarily geared to developing missile technology for the Cold War.
He still cherishes his framed photo of Yuri Gagarin. Gagarin was surely brave and resourceful. But what cause were those qualities made to serve? Since 1972 no government has found sending humans (rather than scientific instruments) beyond low Earth orbit worthwhile even for prestige or possible military spin-offs. And on the International Space Station, the astronomer Martin Rees says: “The scientific returns have been meagre. We have learned a bit about how the body reacts to spending long periods in space, and we have grown a few crystals in zero gravity, but that is in no way commensurate to the tens of billions of dollars that have been spent”.
Rhodri Evans, London