The American writer died on 5 June at the age of 91. Famous for his poetic futuristic approach, he described the settling of humans on the Red Planet in “The Martian Chronicles” published in 1950.
Ray Bradbury in 2009 when he visited NASA’s JPL (see video at the end of the article). Credit: NASA/JPL
Born on 22 August 1920, Ray Bradbury saw Humankind heading off to the stars. But the space conquest was not his only source of inspiration: he also skilfully wrote horror novels and even thrillers such as with the astonishing “Death is a lonely business”. In “Fahrenheit 451”, now a great classic, he denounces censorship and group thinking by describing a totalitarian society where books are banned. As regards science-fiction, his most outstanding work is very probably “The Martian Chronicles” that, moreover, the author considered to be a book of fantasy and not science-fiction. A collection of short stories published between 1945 and 1950, “The Martian Chronicles” evoke through several stories the arrival of human beings on Mars. Ray Bradbury does not extrapolate the necessary technologies but, instead, explores the profound consequences of such a colonisation, which means that his narrative is still relevant today. In conclusion, he describes a father that shows his son who wants to see the Martians (whose civilisation has been annihilated by microbes brought by the first astronauts) their own reflections in the water: a symbolic scene that highlights the fact that setting off to other worlds will change human nature forever. In 2000, he wrote an essay on NASA as part of the Agency’s Art Program. The following is an extract: NASA’s activities are "our" activities. The purpose of life on Earth is to see, to know, and to tell what the Cosmos has to offer. Without us human beings, without NASA, the Universe would be unseen, unknown, untouched. A mindless abyss of stars ask to be discovered.
In February 2009, Ray Bradbury (in a wheel chair since 1999 following a stroke) visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and met the team that was piloting the rovers on Mars (video below).
On Monday 6 August the Mars rover Curiosity should land on the red planet. From today Enjoy Space and Cité de l’Espace are offering you the chance to follow this event on Twitter, and then by video, direct from the NASA JPL in California!
This is the mythical rocket par excellence, the one that launched Sputnik, the first satellite and Gagarin, the first man in space. The CSG, Guiana Space Centre, is now one of its launch bases: a historic achievement.