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Website of the Week — Encyclopedia Astronautica


Time again for our Website of the Week, and this time it’s a one-stop resource for everything you ever wanted to know about space exploration.

As Captain Kirk said on the old “Star Trek” TV series, space is “the final frontier.” Humans may be only at the beginning of the age of space exploration, but there’s already a lot of space history to keep track of. And we found one place that aims to be a comprehensive resource.

WADE: "Well the website is a reference source for anybody who's interested in space flight or space history. It tries to be comprehensive, have a page on every rocket that's ever flown or been designed, every space ship that's ever been conceived of or flown, all the astronauts that have ever trained for space flight and the engineers that have designed space craft."

Mark Wade is the enthusiast behind the Encyclopedia Astronautica at astronautix.com, a sprawling website with some 14,000 pages of space information, including about 8,500 images. The site includes a broad historical panorama of both successful missions and ideas that never got off the drawing board.

Wade says that historical perspective is important because of what philosopher George Santayana said —

WADE: "You know, they say those who don't study history are condemned to repeat it, and right now NASA is doing a lot of studies about what to do in space next in terms of the next manned spacecraft and whether to go to the moon or mars, and how to do it. And all these things have been studied before in great depth. So I really hope it provides a source for people to better understand that, and not try to repeat the same mistakes that happened in the past."

A lot of material on Wade's site focuses on other nations' space activities — notably Russian and Chinese programs that are not well known in the West, in part because of the language barrier.

Wade says his site is really pretty much of a one-person operation without any big institution behind it. Looking forward, he thinks the Encyclopedia Astronautica may become more of an index to Internet space resources, rather than an online library. That's because, he says, in the 10 years since the site went online, more and more resources have become available on space topics, including more original source material that might be hard to find without a little help.

WADE: "I see it maybe getting more specialized because with the incredible explosion of the Internet it's become less necessary to have a site that tries to be a comprehensive, single place where all this information is assembled."

Mark Wade's site is the Encyclopedia Astronautica at astronautix.com, or you can get the link from our site, VOANews.com.

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