Space exploration is hot. What happened before? – OZY


Looks like someone is flying into space everyday. Last month MM. Branson and Bezos have become attached to historic space travel. Today, a mission to the International Space Station is about to lift off with supplies and content for an experiment called “Cardinal Muscle,” a test to see how altered muscle tissue behaves in space. Let us not forget that these efforts lie on the shoulders of the pioneering men and women who came before – explorers who charted new journeys by putting one foot in front of the other right here on planet Earth.

Wacky, courageous and often stubborn, the six American adventurers featured in today’s Daily Dose have unleashed their passion for the unknown. From a legendary black pioneer to the first woman to climb the tallest mountain in North America to today’s underwater mages, let us take you on an inspiring journey of wild discovery.

go west

Ahead of its time

In nineteenth-century America, slavery was a tragic reality for half of the country. James Beckwourth stood out from the crowd. A black man born into slavery in Virginia at the dawn of the 1800s, he was an unlikely pioneer, even at a time when exploration was the agenda. Everyone from government topographers and fur traders to missionaries imposing their beliefs on Native communities crossed the Mississippi River towards the Midwest. Beckwourth himself reached California at the turn of the century. These myriad adventurers resembled today’s astronauts. It is not surprising that this period coincided with the great transport revolution. America was changing at breakneck speed.

Endurance and charisma

Legend has it that in 1824 a young Beckwourth joined a fur trap company on a wild expedition through the Rocky Mountains in present-day Colorado. The rough terrain and high altitudes were no place for the inexperienced, but what Beckwourth lacked in terms of technical ability – at least initially – he made up for it with his charisma. He forged a reputation as a master storyteller and liked to talk about his adventures. Not only did he quickly learn to survive in the wild by hunt down and kill animals, but during his travels he also made forays with the Crow Nation. Beckwourth became so close to them that in the late 1820s he married at least two tribal women and father of several children. And that’s not all. Having developed a multitude of skills in mountaineering, he discovered in 1851 a safe route through Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California. At over 5,000 feet above sea level, the area in County Plumas is now called Beckwourth Pass.

A man of firsts

John Colter was born to an Irish family living in Virginia in the early 1770s. Blue-eyed and tall, as a young adult he had a reputation for being a troublemaker but quickly became in demand for his exploratory skills. The original “mountain man” was a skilled hunter and trapper. This expertise has earned him a place in the infamous Lewis and Clark Expedition, who in 1804 set out to explore the lands acquired by the United States from France west of the Mississippi River. It’s another trip that earns him a chapter in the history books.

The right turn

The Lewis and Clark adventure ended in 1806 when the team reached the pacific ocean. Colter, however, wanted more. A year later, the Missouri Fur Company hired him to guide him to a part of the continent known today as the state of Montana. The company’s goal was to make inroads with local Indigenous peoples and establish trade channels. The expedition settled at Fort Raymond near the Yellowstone River, and Colter was sent alone on a grueling 500 mile solo trek to find said communities. What the company got instead were stories about the most magnificent landscapes, including the intense blue, yellow and green pools and craters, “steam coming out of the ground” and “boiling mud”. The legend has it people didn’t believe it first. It was not until 1871, when the American geologist Ferdinand Hayden drew pictures and took pictures of the area, which people ultimately believed in Colter’s stories. Yellowstone found itself designated as the first national park, not only in the country, but around the world.

it’s a man’s world

Double Glazing Ceiling

If you think it can be difficult for women to break the glass ceiling today, try being African American and Native American in the early 20th century. Bessie Coleman became the first black woman to obtain an international flight license. Its road was stony. Born in Texas in 1892, one of 12 children, Coleman’s dreams usually faded into the background as she helped his mother making ends meet. Struggling (and ultimately failing) to earn enough money to pay for her college education, she moved to Chicago at the age of 23 in search of adventure. There, one of her brothers who had returned from World War I teased her, saying that, unlike women in France, she would never fly a plane. Challenge accepted.

The sky is not the limit

Coleman had found his calling. As a woman and African American, she also discovered that no flight school in the country would accept her. Then she learned French herself and moved to France to pursue his dream. Fully licensed, she returned to America in 1921 and became a sensation. His towers in the air such as “curl the curls“and the number eight has earned her a rare following for any woman, let alone a woman of color. Her shows drew huge crowds, though she refused to speak publicly in a discriminatory venue. towards African Americans. Tragically, the pioneer died in an accident in 1926 as a passenger in an airplane without a seat belt or a roof. Since then, the Chicago Challenger Pilot’s Association has flown over his grave once a year to pay homage to the original air pioneer. His time on earth (and in the air) was short-lived, but his legacy lives on.

A date 20,000 feet high

Barbara Washburn, the first woman to climb Mount Bertha in Alaska in 1941, was out of this world. Washburn wasn’t even a mountaineer. She took up rock climbing after meeting her husband, Bradford, at the New England Museum of Natural History in Boston in 1939. He was a passionate mountaineer and invited Barbara to join him. Her lack of experience did not stop her. Neither did the social norms of the time that called for him to stay home and raise children. Fun fact: Barbara had to walk the mountain equipped with men’s clothing because high altitude clothing for women was not available.

“I just had to do it”

Washburn was invited to another expedition in 1947. This time the idea was to reach the top of Alaska’s 20,300-foot Denali, the highest peak on the continent. There are few things that capture the imagination of an adventurer like facing one of the highest mountains in the world. Denali is definitely not for the faint hearted. Imagine what it means today an 18 day trip – and using detailed maps and state-of-the-art equipment – would have looked like 70 years ago. At the time, known as Mount McKinley, the plan was to put together footage for a film in progress to spark public interest in mountaineering. Only 15 people had managed to reach the top before the Washburn team, and no woman had. “I wasn’t trying to get anything. I was right there and I had to do it, ”Washburn said in an interview decades later. But don’t be fooled by his modesty: Washburn is the definition of a pioneer badass. After accomplishing this historic feat, she and her husband led a massive Mount Everest mapping project and a seven-year project to map the Grand Canyon. His greatest success? Living to the age of 99 and inspiring generations of women to follow in her footsteps.

look down, back


In the depths

Where are you going when most of the Earth has been explored? Downstairs, of course. Basically. With around 80% of the world’s oceans still to explore, the potential for discovering new species and new ecosystems is breathtaking. Topping the list of today’s exciting submarine pioneers is Robert Ballard. The background of this retired naval officer is full of highlights, including the wreck of the titanic. The Kansas-born professor of oceanography is also one of the first deep-sea archaeologists. “We only live on less than 20% of the planet,” Ballard said NPR. “About 28% are over the ocean. So when you really think about it, we live on the peaks of the mountains and don’t know what’s in the valleys.

Everything below

What would the planet be like without its vast bodies of water? “We have better maps of Mars than of the deep ocean,” Ballard noted in a TED talk. the son of a self-taught engineer, he caught the curiosity virus at age 17, when he first set off to explore the sea. Later, Ballard became famous for developing vessels that could travel to ocean depths far beyond the reach of sunlight. Diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult, he explained how it was only recently that he came to understand the source of his gift for exploration. “I am extremely comfortable in a world of total darkness because I see it in my mind,” he said. I told the newspaper this month. “I just thought anyone could do it, but I found it to be a very unique gift and ability. “

What remains to be found

While thousands of new animal and plant species are still discovered above the water every year life in the depths promises to be even more exciting. It was only recently that researchers discovered a alien-looking sea blob nearly 13,000 feet deep in the Caribbean Sea off Puerto Rico. And don’t forget the “American only whale“in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Tracey Sutton, professor at the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography in Florida, thinks scientists are just getting started.” Every time we go on a deep sea research excursion there is has a good chance that we will see something that we have never seen before, ”she said. told CBS.

Find fish

Sutton should know. She was part of a team that found a new species of fish in the Gulf of Mexico in 2015. Inhabiting the sea between 3,280 and 5,000 feet (the equivalent of 10 Statues of Liberty stacked on top of each other), the Lasiognathus dinema – a kind of wolftrap fisherman – is equipped with something that looks like a fishing rod attached to his head. But this is where the good news can end. While many 21st century explorers hunt for undiscovered flora and fauna in the deep sea, another army of scientists try to keep track of all species. lost every year (with 160 species extinct in the the last decade only, they have their work cut out for them).

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