In Bethesda’s latest game, Starfield, you’ll embark on a space-faring adventure in the far future. But did you know that the game draws inspiration from real history? Starfield’s aesthetic, dubbed “Nasa-Punk,” takes cues from the design of NASA during the Space Race era. The game explores the full history of space exploration, from the Fathers of Rocketry to the Cold War and the Space Race. You’ll also learn about significant milestones, such as the Mercury and Apollo space missions, as well as the future of space travel, including Mars missions and privatized space travel.
The concept of space travel wasn’t a popular one until the Renaissance, when minds like Aristarchus of Samos and Nicolaus Copernicus made early contributions. It wasn’t until Jules Verne’s novel “From Earth to the Moon” in the 1800s that space travel became popularized. Fast forward to the 20th century, where three scientists—Constantine Silovsky, Robert H. Goddard, and Hermann Oberth—laid the foundations of rocketry independently, leading to further advancements in space exploration. The Cold War and the rivalry between the US and USSR escalated the desire to conquer outer space, resulting in significant achievements like the first satellite launches and the eventual moon landing. In recent years, space exploration has become privatized, with companies like SpaceX aiming for human missions to Mars. Starfield’s official timeline even predicts a Mars landing by 2050.
The Renaissance Period and Early Contributions to Space Travel
The concept of space travel was not popular until the Renaissance period when significant strides were made in our understanding of space. During this time, two individuals made crucial contributions to the field of space exploration – Aristarchus of Samos and Nicolaus Copernicus.
Aristarchus of Samos, an ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician, was the first to propose the heliocentric model of the solar system, suggesting that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around. He also predicted that stars were distant suns, demonstrating an early understanding of the vastness of the universe.
Centuries later, towards the end of the Renaissance period, Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish astronomer, further developed the heliocentric model in his book “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres.” Copernicus’ work challenged the geocentric model of the universe, which had been widely accepted. His contributions laid the foundation for our modern understanding of planetary motion and set the stage for future advancements in space travel.
Jules Verne and Popularizing Space Travel in the 1800s
While the concept of space travel gained some traction during the Renaissance, it wasn’t until the 1800s that it truly began to capture the imagination of the general public. One individual who played a key role in popularizing the idea of space travel during this period was Jules Verne.
Verne, a French author, published the novel “From Earth to the Moon” in 1865. The story follows a group of adventurers who build a massive cannon to launch themselves to the moon. This novel, along with Verne’s other works, captured the public’s fascination with the potential of space exploration and helped fuel the imagination of future scientists and engineers.
The Founding Fathers of Rocketry
In the early 20th century, three scientists independently contributed to the foundation of rocketry, paving the way for future advancements in space travel. These individuals were Constantine Silovsky, Robert H. Goddard, and Hermann Oberth.
Silovsky, a Russian scientist, was inspired by Jules Verne’s work and developed the silovsky equation, which measured the horizontal speed required by a rocket to orbit the Earth. His research and theories in rocketry laid the groundwork for further advancements in the field.
Robert H. Goddard, an American engineer, was inspired by H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” and conducted extensive research on rocket propulsion. He is often credited with the development of the first practical liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched in 1926. Goddard’s work was instrumental in the early stages of rocket development and served as a stepping stone for future breakthroughs.
Hermann Oberth, a Romanian-German physicist, also drew inspiration from Jules Verne’s stories and published several influential books on space travel. His work laid the foundations for rocket propulsion and interplanetary travel, inspiring a generation of scientists and engineers.
World War II and the Cold War
The outbreak of World War II in the 1930s and 1940s brought significant advancements in rocket technology. Germany, under the leadership of Wernher von Braun, developed the V-2 rockets for military purposes. The V-2 rockets were the first guided ballistic missiles and reached unprecedented heights, reaching the edge of space.
After World War II, the geopolitical tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War era fueled the space race between the two superpowers. Both nations recognized the strategic and technological significance of space exploration and sought to gain an advantage over one another.
The Birth of Satellites and the Space Race
The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union gained momentum after the successful launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, by the Soviet Union in 1957. This event sent shockwaves throughout the United States and sparked concerns over national security and technological advancements.
In response, the United States formed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 to lead the country’s efforts in space exploration. In 1958, NASA successfully launched Explorer 1, the first US satellite, into orbit.
During this period, animals such as dogs, chimpanzees, and mice were used to test the safety and feasibility of human space travel. These experiments provided valuable insights into the effects of space travel on living organisms and helped pave the way for manned missions.
In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth, followed by Alan Shepard, the first American, one month later. The space race between the United States and the Soviet Union intensified as both nations fought for milestones in space exploration.
NASA’s Apollo Program and the Moon Landing
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced a bold goal for the United States – to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the 1960s. This ambitious directive became known as the Apollo program.
To prepare for the lunar mission, NASA initiated Project Gemini, which focused on advancing space travel capabilities. Gemini involved a series of manned missions that tested various aspects of spaceflight, including long-duration flights, rendezvous and docking procedures, and extra-vehicular activities (spacewalks).
However, the Apollo program was not without its setbacks. In 1967, a tragic fire broke out during a test on the Apollo 1 spacecraft, resulting in the deaths of three astronauts – Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. This incident led to significant changes in spacecraft design and safety protocols.
Another tragedy occurred in 1967 when the Soviet Soyuz 1 spacecraft crashed during reentry, resulting in the death of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. These incidents highlighted the risks and challenges associated with space exploration.
Despite these setbacks, NASA pressed forward with the development of the iconic spacesuits and the Lunar Module, a spacecraft designed to land astronauts on the moon. In 1969, the Apollo 11 mission achieved the historic milestone of landing humans on the moon. Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the lunar surface, famously declaring, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The success of the Apollo program demonstrated the capabilities of human space travel and marked a significant achievement in the history of space exploration.
Space Stations and International Cooperation
In the following decades, both the United States and the Soviet Union launched space stations as platforms for long-duration human spaceflight and scientific research.
The United States launched Skylab, a space station that orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979. Skylab served as an important milestone in the development of space station technologies and provided valuable insights into living and working in space for extended periods.
In 1975, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project saw the first successful docking between a United States spacecraft and a Soviet spacecraft. This marked an important moment of international cooperation in space exploration.
NASA’s Space Shuttle program, which operated from 1981 to 2011, allowed for the transportation of astronauts and cargo to and from Earth’s orbit. The Space Shuttle program played a vital role in the construction and maintenance of the International Space Station (ISS).
The assembly of the ISS began in 1998, involving multiple space agencies from around the world. The ISS serves as a research laboratory and a symbol of international cooperation in space exploration. It has been continuously occupied since November 2000 and has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of space and its effects on the human body.
Exploring Mars and Privatized Space Travel
In recent decades, there has been a renewed focus on exploring Mars, the next frontier in space exploration. NASA has launched several Mars Rover missions, including the successful deployment of the Mars rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. These rovers have provided invaluable data and imagery from the Martian surface, contributing to our understanding of the Red Planet.
Space exploration has also become increasingly privatized, with companies like SpaceX leading the way. SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, has made significant strides in reducing the costs of space travel through reusable rocket technology. The company has set its sights on sending humans to Mars in the near future.
The ambitious mission to Mars represents the next chapter in human space travel, with plans for colonization and the establishment of a sustainable presence on the Red Planet. Private companies like SpaceX are expected to play a vital role in these future endeavors.
The Aesthetic and Inspiration of Starfield
Bethesda’s game, Starfield, draws inspiration from the real history of space exploration, particularly the US and USSR Space Race. The game’s aesthetic has been described as “Nasa-Punk,” taking cues from the designs of NASA during the space-race era.
The Nasa-Punk aesthetic combines futuristic elements with retro-futurism, evoking a sense of nostalgia for the early days of space exploration. The game’s space suits bear a resemblance to the iconic Apollo era suits, showcasing the influence of historical designs on the game’s visuals.
Starfield’s immersion in the history of human space flight adds depth and authenticity to the game’s narrative and world-building. Players can expect to embark on a journey that pays homage to the real achievements and challenges of space exploration.
Starfield’s Root in Human Space Flight
Bethesda’s game studio, in creating Starfield, has taken inspiration from the rich and complex history of human space flight. The game’s narrative and world-building are rooted in real events and milestones that have shaped our understanding of space.
The timeline of Starfield predicts a future where humans have become a space-faring civilization, with plans to land on Mars by 2050. This projection aligns with current aspirations in the field of space exploration, where organizations like NASA and private companies like SpaceX are actively working towards manned missions to the Red Planet.
By incorporating real-world space exploration milestones into its gameplay and storytelling, Starfield offers players a unique and immersive experience that highlights the triumphs and challenges of human space flight. It serves as a testament to our enduring fascination with the final frontier and our unwavering determination to push the boundaries of what is possible in space.
Bethesda’s latest major game, Starfield, is finally out. In Starfield, you join Constellation, the last group of space explorers who are trying to discover the purpose of alien artifacts. This is the real history behind Starfield and of space exploration.
While Starfield takes place in the far future, long after Humans have become a space-faring civilization, the game does take some inspiration from the real history of space exploration. Leading up to the release of Starfield, Bethesda stated that the game was inspired by the US and USSR Space Race – which led to the famous Mercury and Apollo space missions.
The team has described Starfield’s aesthetic as “Nasa-Punk”, inspired by the real NASA designs of the space-race era, with various space suits from Starfield bearing a resemblance to the Apollo era space suits. In this episode of The Real History Of, host Dave Klein dives deep into the full history of Space Exploration, showing where we’re at today, and what the future currently looks like. This is The Real History of Starfield.