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NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's Statement on Arthur C. Clarke
03.19.08
 
"With the passing of Arthur C. Clarke we in the space community have lost yet another legendary pioneer of early spaceflight. In Sir Arthur's case, this loss uniquely spans two communities. He was among the earliest of those who developed and promoted serious space mission concepts, both for human exploration of the solar system and for utilization of near-Earth space for immediate human benefit. Clarke will forever be remembered for his 1945 suggestion that the equatorial orbit with a 24-hour period was uniquely suited to the task of relaying around-the-world communications. He is honored today by the many dozens of satellites occupying what today we call the geostationary ring, or, sometimes, 'Clarke orbit.'

"But Sir Arthur was more than a practical scientist or engineer. He could envision a likely and plausible human future beyond the Earth, a future with important human activity on the Moon, Mars, other planets, and eventually beyond the Solar System. He could write serious works of non-fiction -- most notably his landmark book, The Promise of Space -- depicting a future that we could bring about if we wished.

"And that takes us to the other community in which Arthur Clarke’s loss will be felt, the community of those who wrote what today we call 'hard science fiction,' science fiction which is grounded in the principals of physics and engineering as we understand them. Clarke wrote tales of adventure beyond Earth that were so plausible, so well grounded in technical reality, that the line between his fiction and non-fiction seemed on occasion to dissolve away, leaving to the reader only a marvelous vision of what could yet come to be."