Documentary exploring how humans have transformed our world in a generation. Dallas Campbell explores how we can travel further and faster than ever.
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This is our home.
From up here it looks the same as it has done for thousands of years.
But if you get a bit closer, you can see we've made a few changes.
We've been busy redesigning our world.
Wherever you look...
Welcome to the top of the world!
..you'll see the scale of this supersized transformation.
Just don't whatever you do look down.
Our generation is changing the face of the planet as never before.
I'm Dallas Campbell,
and I'll show you how we're shaping the modern world.
Ah - whey!
Today we've harnessed our pioneering sprit.
That was a bumpy ride.
And we can travel further and faster than at any point in human history.
Just one more inch.
This is bumper to bumper parking.
Our desire to move is inspiring some of the most extraordinary
engineering projects on the planet.
We're forging new connections that are changing the way we live.
We are making the impossible possible.
Today billions of us can travel across the planet
in a matter of hours.
But that everyday miracle started in a rather humble way.
On the December 17th, 1903, on this very sand dune,
two brothers made a journey that was going to change everything.
They were trying out this radical new form of transportation
that was going to give us
the power to travel further than we've ever travelled before.
And the distance they made on that day was extraordinary.
I know it doesn't sound very far,
but that 36 metres triggered a whole century of innovation.
Those two men were the Wright brothers.
And the invention they're known for is the aeroplane.
But it wouldn't have been possible without this,
the glider they built the year before.
Until they cracked how to ride the wind and steer through the breeze,
no-one could begin to conquer the skies.
The Wright brothers achieved this in such a simple way
that apparently even I should be able to get the hang of it.
There you go.
The canard wing in front controls going up and down,
Wow, look at that.
Put some weight in that harness. Good. There you go, good reaction.
To turn, the Wright brothers
banked the wings against the wind by twisting them.
Do you want to try shifting your weight?
OK, I'll try the other way.
There you go.
And this is warping. Oh, God, yeah, yeah.
And they put a rudder on the back.
Yeah, that's good correction.
This is an exact replica of their glider.
And I can just imagine how they must have felt.
Nose up, excellent. Nose all the way up.
Woo! Hoo, hoo hoo!
It's this glider
that makes all those airplanes that we fly today possible.
This was the moment we unlocked the secret to human flight.
It launched a dramatic revolution in the way we move around the globe,
and that helped transform our planet.
Nose it up.
Today we can travel from continent to continent in a single bound.
It's as though we've brought the whole world to our doorstep.
Paris now feels like a suburb of London.
New York's just seven hours away.
It used to be a five-day trip by boat!
All the world is suddenly within reach.
Journeys that were once-in-a-lifetime
are now weekly commutes.
CAR HORNS BEEP
Ours is the generation that shrunk the world.
In amongst our transport revolution there's a real unsung hero.
It sounds obvious, but it's only when you take a road away
that you appreciate how useful it is.
And that's something I'm going to put to the test.
With a little help from the off-road world champion.
We're up a mountain in the worst weather Wales can throw at us.
The test is simple - who can get to the bottom first?
It's difficult to know, what do you think - off-road v road?
I get the easy job, I just have to follow the road.
You're going to go the shortest possible route
-by hurling yourself off a mountain.
-I have to do a bit of a wiggle.
-A bit of a zigzag.
-My bike's better than yours as well, so that's...
-Don't say that!
This is my bike. This is my bog-standard from the shop bike.
It's not bad.
-OK, shall we do it?
-Yeah. Good luck.
-See you down there.
-See you down there.
Going by road should allow me to go faster.
I'm going the wrong way!
But is it really going to make me a match for Rachel Atherton?
Both routes drop 267 metres to the village below.
But whilst Rachel hurls herself straight down the hillside,
I've a got a long and winding road to negotiate.
Oh, thank you! Watch out please!
Travelling quickly off-road takes bravery, takes skill.
You've got to have a bit of a screw loose.
But the reason roads are fast is simple.
Dedicated routes, free of obstacles and as smooth as technology allows.
Which means people like me can travel at speeds
that our distant ancestors could only dream of.
FAST BANJO MUSIC PLAYS
Oh, oi, oi - that was terrifying, but I made it!
That was tiring.
-Oh, that was slippery. So much mud.
-That was quite hardcore.
You couldn't see where you were going.
-No, thank you.
I'm devastated. I was sure I had the win.
The road will take you from Lands End to John O'Groats
and pretty much anywhere in between.
Britain now has 250,000 miles of roads.
They're part of a record-breaking expansion of road networks
all over the globe.
But the biggest road builder isn't perhaps the most obvious.
It's certainly not back at home in Britain.
And it's not up-and-coming Mexico.
It's not even America, the home of the automobile.
No, it's the world's newest superpower.
The thing is, the landscape in many parts of China
makes getting from A to B quite a challenge.
It's like Scotland on steroids.
God, the mountains are so steep!
And that means almost every road
has to be an incredible feat of engineering.
But that hasn't stopped the Chinese.
To shrink their vast country,
they've traversed ravines, tunnelled through mountains
and crossed some of the world's widest rivers.
This is the fourth Nanjing Bridge spanning the Yangtze River.
It's one of the longest single span suspension bridges in the world.
Or at least it will be when it's finished
Hey, how's it going?
I'm about to join a team of bridge builders preparing
the suspension cables so the road can be attached.
Thank you, thank you very much.
'That means going 220 metres up
'and nearly a kilometre along.'
Oh, that is immense, look at that.
To work on the main suspension cable,
a temporary walkway has been installed.
For me, it feels a little too temporary.
Look how high up we are, and look how...
God, this is scary. Just get over this...
I'm proper scared, genuinely proper scared.
Coming down here, it's so steep.
I don't even know how high we are. But, like, stupid high.
And these scaffold boards just seem really rickety.
And you can see where all the scaffold boards are actually missing
and you've got to walk over chicken wire.
But it will be worth it for the view. Come on.
Oh, man, this is mad!
This is like... I'm actually para... This is stupid.
OK, I'm going to hold on here.
This is the bit, I'm going to not look down.
Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down.
Thinking about tightrope walking.
Thinking about just being very cool and looking ahead.
100 metres ahead of me,
the high-wire team is working on the cables.
As with all suspension bridges, the road will be hung from
the two main cables via smaller vertical ones.
Right now, they're installing collars to join the cables together.
What I like is you're walking down here, and everything's going well,
and you'll just see the occasional hole in the wire.
This is good, I'm enjoying it now.
From panic and fear to actual enjoyment.
By the time I arrive,
I'm too late to do anything but admire their handiwork.
Yeah, you might want to tighten that!
The secret to building a bridge on this scale isn't just bravery,
it also depends on a remarkable property of steel.
Look a little bit closer
and you realise that actually it is not a cable at all, it is
actually made up of thousands and thousands of smaller wires like this.
It is a little bit like if you pull
a thread from your jumper, like a really, really fine thread,
then this is the suspension bridge equivalent of that, if you like.
Using thousands of smaller wires rather than one thick cable
is what makes this bridge so robust.
In fact, the process of stretching the steel into wires
makes its up to seven times stronger.
In total, there are 17,000 wires in this bridge.
Allowing it to carry an incredible 330,000 tonnes.
This is the end of the road, for the moment at least.
In 12 months' time, right where I'm standing,
lorries and cars are going to be whizzing by and this bridge
will be finished, connecting this area, connecting people.
And the Chinese haven't stopped at just crossing rivers.
In the centre of the country is a road that's been
heralded as one of the engineering marvels of the world.
The road we're on is called the G50.
It stretches for almost 1,200 miles, connecting
one of the remotest areas of central China to Shanghai.
And nothing has been allowed to stand in its way.
One minute you're plunged into the bowels of a mountain -
and the next you're suspended in mid-air.
It's an incredible feat,
and achieving it has included building the world's highest bridge.
Actually, it's not that one,
it's this one - the Siduhe Bridge.
Pretty epic, isn't it?
Not the longest bridge in the world, but the view from up here...
It soars half a kilometre above the valley floor.
You could fit the Empire State Building underneath it -
with room to spare.
It's so high, and the slopes are so steep,
that they had to use a rocket to fire the first cable
from one side of the valley to the other.
This bridge hasn't just transformed the landscape,
it's transformed the lives of its inhabitants.
For Christmas I'm buying you a new heater for your van.
It's very cold.
I've been trying to fix it, but I can't get it to work.
The G50 has dramatically cut Soo Chee Yang's delivery times.
A daily journey that used to take 12 hours has been slashed to three.
Do you get to see friends in different places that you can now get to quicker?
For over 70 years, the world's highest bridge was
a wooden-planked affair in the American Rocky Mountains.
But in the last decade the Chinese have broken that record
not once, but again and again and again and again and again...
On this stretch of road they didn't just have to build
the highest bridge in the world,
they had to build NINE of the highest bridges.
In fact, China now has half of the world's top 100 highest bridges,
all of them built in the last couple of decades.
This extraordinary stretch of road is just a small link in one
of the biggest and fastest building projects in history.
In 1989, China had fewer than 100 miles of express way.
Now it has well over 50,000 -
that's more than the entire European Union.
This is building on such scale and speed that it's eclipsed
America's interstate network - all 47,000 miles of it.
And China has done all of this in just a couple of decades.
Of course, it's not the roads themselves that have shrunk our world.
What's harnessed their speed are the things we put on them.
They come in all shapes and sizes.
Some are functional and some are for fun.
And we can't get enough of them.
Right now, there are 260 million motorbikes on our roads.
There are millions of taxis,
even if none are where you need them right now.
And hundreds of millions of trucks are busy moving all our stuff
from place to place.
But the real vehicle of choice is, of course, the car.
Over 700 million of them stand ready to take us where we want,
when we want.
In fact, last year it's thought
the number of vehicles on the planet passed the one billion mark.
That's enough to create a car park the size of the Grand Canyon.
Cars haven't just changed the way we move,
they've changed the way we live.
Once upon a time, you'd have wanted your place of work
and all your shops that you visit
actually on the street where you live.
But, of course, once you're in your car, the miles just don't matter.
In America, they've designed their cities around the automobile.
'Good afternoon and welcome to Tom's Burgers, Marcia speaking, what can I get for you?'
I'll have the breakfast burrito, please.
It can be a mobile restaurant.
-All righty, there you go.
-Hi, Marcia. Wow, that's heavy.
-That is some burrito.
Ha-ha, that is a house brick!
Or a place to do your laundry.
There's even drive-thru pawn.
See how much you can give me for my watch.
The best I can do is like a 25 dollar loan on it.
-It's a Japanese movement, man.
It's even possible to spend the most special day of your life in the car.
Thanks to the awesome power of the internet,
and 20 dollars for the certificate,
I have been ordained as a member of the clergy
of the Church of Spiritual Humanism.
There you go. Look, Robert Dallas Campbell, full name.
All I need now is a couple to marry.
Here they are.
Hi there. How are you guys doing today?
Good, how are you?
I'm very well, actually, I'm probably a bit more nervous than you are.
Travis and Brittany, do you have the tokens of love for each other, the rings?
The rings that you give to each other today
are a precious gift to one another and represent a never-ending circle of love,
and a wonderful reminder for all to see of the love that you share.
-Do you, Travis, take Brittany to be your wife?
-And with this ring.
-And with this ring.
-And with this ring.
-I thee wed you.
-I thee wed you.
-I wed you.
I now pronounce you husband and wife, all over again.
You may now kiss the bride.
# Nice day for a white wedding... #
# It's a nice day to start again... #
There is a problem with our love affair with the car -
they've become a victim of their own success.
If we all use them at the same time, our roads can't cope.
But whilst we're sitting, bumper to bumper, fuming...
..engineers have come up with a radical approach to beating the queues.
It doesn't get rid of the cars.
But it does get rid of the drivers.
The ultimate backseat driver. Not only can she map read,
she can do the steering, as well.
Shelley is, in fact, a robot racing car.
A car so good at driving,
the hope is with her at wheel we can safely squeeze more cars
onto our roads.
Although perhaps not at these speeds.
It does about 120mph down the straight
firing right into the first turn.
That's quick, isn't it? I am kind of like checking to
make sure you haven't got a remote control.
Nothing, no hands.
The car is currently a prototype
which means there isn't much room in the back for your luggage.
But it does have just enough room to squeeze two up front.
So I'm about to trust my life to a 300bhp computer.
Three, two, one, begin.
For now, the car can do a lap of the track a smidge off the course record.
Man, that's fast.
The one set by humans, that is.
Every so often I am just looking over to you just to check you are not doing anything.
Not doing anything.
Every improvement takes the team
nearer to their ultimate goal - to build a car
that's a lot better at driving than you.
Well, we're up to 80 miles an hour!
You can start to sense the back end twitches a bit,
all the car's sensors pick that up and it compensates.
That's exactly right. It can tell what the tyres are doing,
and the moment it starts to feel it wiggle, it will actually counter steer and catch you.
Most of the systems that allow Shelley
to race around a track are already available in your everyday car.
From power steering and sat navs, to traction control.
What Shelley does is tie everything together.
That last turn was about as fast as the car can possibly take it.
CAR HORN USED AS BEEP
Cars without drivers are still some way off,
and, to be honest, they take a bit of getting used to.
It feels so smooth.
So, for now, if we want to beat the traffic,
the way millions of us choose to do it is hidden underground.
It is almost 8 o'clock in the morning, it's time to go to work.
This is the point where this city really starts to move.
In the next few hours, one in six Londoners will cross this city.
For the most part, these journeys are invisible.
But just imagine if you could see exactly how the trains
move across the city.
Imagine if the underground was overground.
Some lines run so deep that if they were the same distance above ground
they'd be ten storeys high.
We may take it for granted,
but every day, over 500 trains, on 250 miles of track,
move nearly three million people.
But mass transportation isn't just about moving people.
It's also about bringing the world to us.
RADIO TUNES IN
Hundreds of billions of pounds worth of our stuff arrives
into Britain every year.
Something that didn't happen in the 1950s.
Isn't this an amazing room! It is like stepping back in time.
All these great materials. The Bakelite telephone
and an old plastic camera.
Look at that telly, less flat-screen more fat screen.
This room comes from a time before
most of our modern transport networks were built, and it shows.
In fact, that white lamp up there
and that ashtray, are the only two things that come from abroad.
Take them out and this whole room was made in Britain.
Fast forward to today and things are a little different.
# You bring it to me
# Bring your sweet loving
# Bring it on home to me
# Yeah, yeah, yeah... #
The computer - made in China - as are these cushions.
Made in China. The telly and the DVD player, made in Hungary.
Flowers - China - plastic.
The vase was made in Lithuania.
If I take away all the stuff that wasn't made in Britain,
the room is suddenly a lot less homely.
In fact, only the sofa's left. That was made in Nottingham.
It's astonishing to think that in just a few decades
the journey your stuff has taken to get to you has changed
from a trip down the road to a trip from all four corners of the world.
And behind that revolution
is an extraordinary, technological innovation - the box.
The humble shipping container might seem an unlikely hero
but it's had a huge effect on our lives -
bringing the world to our doorstep.
Every year, 16 million boxes are on the move.
Altogether, they travel about 400 billion miles - that's enough
to get to Neptune and back - 145 times!
Behind their utilitarian exteriors
are the vital ingredients of modern life.
This is the "what's in the boxes" list.
Container 1551063 is men's cotton working shorts.
In box 1619034, craft paper - 65% polyester... Resins...
..and 35% cotton. Scrap metal. Padded jackets.
..5645 is completely empty.
Containers have made things cheap.
Boxes that are all the same shape are easy to stack
and get on and off ships.
Today, the cost of moving something half way around the world
is typically less than 1% of its price.
And there's a way to make it cheaper still.
Build even bigger ships.
To create the world's biggest container ships,
you need some supersized ingredients.
Including a work force of 50,000.
This is the crank shaft that drives the propeller. It's massive.
Sort of the size of my house.
And you need some cheap labour to do a bit of polishing.
-It's very tactile, you kind of want to touch it. It's gorgeous.
I can't believe I'm actually inside an engine.
Hand greasing a bearing.
Then, to piece it all together,
you need the mother of all cranes,
capable of lifting over 1,000 tonnes.
Operating it is Mr Ju Sung-jong.
With 27 years experience, he's a cool hand.
In the world of crane operators, are you sort of A-list?
He has to move pieces of ship
the size of buildings and place them with millimetre precision.
All of this, so you can build a ship
that's taller than Nelsons' Column, longer than the Eiffel Tower
and capable of holding 13,000 containers.
If this ship wasn't extraordinary enough,
because of our desire for so much stuff that comes in boxes,
they're turning out 100 of these a year.
That's getting on for a ship every three days.
They are the lifeblood of our consumer generation.
Of course, some things that need to be moved
don't fit in boxes.
This is the Ocean Monarch. It's spent decades drilling for oil.
But its work here in the Gulf of Mexico is done.
It's actually bigger than Buckingham Palace.
It's almost 40 years old.
But it hasn't come to the end of its life yet.
In fact, today, that drilling rig is about to go
on a very, very long journey to the other side of the world.
It's needed on a new job in Vietnam in 65 days.
So it has to hitch a ride.
This is the Blue Marlin.
It's kind of a giant, floating flat-bed truck
that can move things that weren't ever really meant to be moved.
With a deck the size of two football pitches,
there is just enough room for the Ocean Monarch.
That's if they can get the 42,000-tonne rig on board first.
No crane in the world can lift that kind of load.
So, there's only one thing for it.
The crew of the Blue Marlin have to sink their ship.
It's from down here, way below the water line,
that the Blue Marlin gets its lifting power.
This whole operation works by the fact that this vessel
is part ship, part submarine, part flat-bed truck.
On the other side of these walls, you've got these vast ballast tanks
which at the moment are empty, which is why we're afloat. They give us buoyancy.
As soon as you want to submerge yourselves,
and lower the ship's profile in the water,
all you have to do is pump seawater in and down you go.
When you want to come back up again, all you have to do is pump it out.
A century after the Titanic was thought to be unsinkable,
we've built a boat that's designed to sink.
This feels really surreal.
You know, like so many engineering solutions,
the beauty of this is the simplicity.
If you wanted to pick something up from the ocean,
what better way than to scoop it up from the bottom.
The whole operation takes 12 hours.
Because, after all, if you're deliberately trying to sink your ship,
you don't want to do it too quickly.
Reality is becoming more and more like a Hollywood action movie.
By the next morning, it's as if the boat never existed.
Our boat has just vanished overnight.
Yesterday, we were on this huge, great, behemoth ship
and suddenly it's all just gone.
And we're left standing on just this little stub.
The ship has sunk an astounding 25 metres underwater -
that's the height of an eight-storey building.
Before the heavy lifting can begin,
the rig needs to be towed into exactly the right position.
If it's out by a matter of centimetres, it could be seriously damaged.
Out by much more, and it would destabilise the ship.
As it is, steering this thing is like having to control
a floating office block.
-That is a very impressive piece of parking.
I struggle to parallel park my car but you guys make it look easy.
You have to learn something from this.
I'm watching and learning.
If the wind rises just five more knots,
the whole mission will have to be aborted.
Someone's going to pull the boat in and have a look
and make sure it's all touching, it's all perfect.
One more inch, another inch.
This is bumper to bumper parking.
-They've got to get it so it just touches.
That's how I park at home, park it by Braille, bumper to bumper.
Now it's time to pump 100,000 tonnes of water
back out of those ballast tanks...
..allowing the Blue Marlin to take the full weight
of one of the world's largest drilling rigs.
The oceans the Blue Marlin will cross are now bustling highways
filled with thousands of ships carrying cargo across the globe.
In 1970, ten ports accounted for
nearly half of the goods on the move.
Belfast was then number five.
Today, six of the world's top ten ports are in China,
and they alone move 25 times as much stuff
as the entire world did just 40 years ago.
These new connections have helped create our modern world.
But there are others that have transformed it.
It's the pioneering achievement of the Wright brothers all those years ago
that has made the biggest difference.
To really shrink the world, you've got to take to the air.
By learning to fly,
we began a transport revolution that continues to change our lives.
Papa, X-ray. Runway 3-1.
The winds 3-5-0, 11 gusts 17. Taxi, Echo...
Gander is over 500 miles from any major city.
Not the most obvious place to build an airport as large as this one.
It might look sleepy, but 50 years ago,
this was one of the busiest,
one of the biggest aviation hubs on the planet.
'Gander International Airport, the air centre of Newfoundland
'and jumping off point for many overseas flights.'
In the '40s and '50s,
almost every transatlantic flight would stop at Gander.
It was the crossroads of the world for one simple reason.
Back in the day, planes just couldn't carry enough fuel
to be able to make the big transatlantic crossings,
and this is actually the first suitable bit of terrain
that pilots could actually land on.
The number of planes refuelling here made Gander busier than Heathrow.
But then we designed something that would change that for ever.
In 1969, a company in Washington State in the north-west of America
built what is perhaps the most important commercial airliner ever made.
A true giant of the skies,
it can carry almost 500 people halfway across the world.
It is, of course, the 747, the jumbo jet.
And this is the very first one.
# Come fly with me
# Let's fly, let's fly away
# If you can use some exotic booze
# There's a bar in far Bombay... #
A 747 could cross the Atlantic with plenty of fuel to spare.
And when it first took flight, it was the height of sophistication...
# Come fly with me
# Let's float down to Peru... #
..a double-decker jet, sporting a space age first class cabin.
# There's a one-man band
# And he'll toot his flute for you... #
Of course, what made this plane a game-changer
wasn't the natty first-class cabin,
it was actually the economy seats downstairs,
because with all this space,
you could get a lot more people on board, ticket prices came down
and suddenly travelling the world became affordable.
I think I'll have a gin and tonic. Can I have a gin and tonic? Please.
# Come fly with me Let's fly, let's fly away... #
40 years ago, the 747 could carry twice as many people
as any other aircraft,
kick-starting the age of budget travel.
# Pack a small bag. #
Today, it's been redesigned
and now it carries a very different kind of cargo.
There she is.
And this is the result.
Not quite as pretty, perhaps, as the original 747,
but it can hold three times the volume.
Apparently, the president of Boeing
had to apologise to the designer of the 747
for what he did to his plane.
'And it's not more people that they cram inside here.'
-Wow, it is surreal, isn't it?
-A plane in a plane
-A plane in a plane.
-A pregnant plane. Prepared to give birth to another plane.
There are just four of these in the world,
and they're used for only thing -
to transport whole sections of brand-new planes.
I'm amazed just what a tight squeeze it is.
I mean, literally, down the edge there, that's inches.
Exactly right. Up at the top, you'll notice...
There's about 12 inches up there at the top, the gap.
Making planes has become a global business.
Sections are built all over the world
and then assembled here in Seattle.
This plane is big enough to carry all the prefabricated parts.
But, a bit like a ship in a bottle, getting them out is a little tricky.
The Boeing engineers made one more change.
They added a hinge. A pretty big hinge.
By swinging the tail out of the way,
they can use every last centimetre of space.
This is the only way that nose cones, tail fins
and even wings, get across the world fast enough
to keep the planes rolling off the production line.
There we go, that's it.
Off she goes.
That's the birth of a brand-new aeroplane.
With this kind of technology,
we've turned the whole world into a supersized factory.
If you just take the fuselage, the front bit,
the nose bit there, was made in Kansas.
The bit behind that was made in Japan,
the centre bit was made in Italy,
these beautiful wings here were made in Japan,
but the wing tips were made in Busan in Korea,
and the landing gear made in Gloucester in the UK.
It's all put together inside the biggest building in the world.
100 acres under one roof -
that's enough space to cram in the whole of Disneyland.
By thinking globally
we've realised the elusive dreams of previous generations...
..and now, more of us than ever are taking to the skies.
Every day above London
over 3,500 planes hurtle through the air.
The skies over the capital
are amongst the busiest and most crowded in the world.
And these are just the flights over one city.
Each year, across the globe,
five billion journeys are flown.
We have truly defied gravity
and turned the sky into a place of work, rest and play.
Right now, at any moment, a million people are suspended in the air.
With stunning ambition,
we've connected the furthest reaches of our globe
and made travel easier than ever before.
But this still isn't enough.
What was once beyond the frontiers of human travel
is becoming a regular commute...
..for a chosen few.
Every morning, I get up, go for a little jog with my Labrador,
take my very obstinate Jack Russell for a walk,
and then I'm usually scurrying around the house, trying to get ready.
'Like many of us around the world,
'Sunita Williams is a regular commuter.'
At 7.30 in the morning, on the way to work, everybody's going to school,
everyone's going to work, and it ends up...
For two miles, it ends up taking sometimes about 15, 20 minutes,
just because it's busy.
But, luckily, there's a Starbucks on the way and a kolache place,
so it's nice to stop sometimes and get breakfast on the way.
But sometimes Suni has to work out of town.
And for that, she takes a ride on this.
I'll be launching and going up to the International Space Station
and I'll be spending probably about four months up there.
Captain Sunita Williams is an astronaut.
In just a few days,
she's going to fly on board this Soyuz rocket to her new office.
That's a journey of 250 miles straight up.
The trip to space itself takes just nine minutes.
That's half the time of Suni's regular commute...
..something that the Wright brothers
would have thought utterly unbelievable.
The really important thing about that rocket
is not just that it goes into space,
not even that it takes people into space,
but the fact that it does it on a regular basis.
It means we've turned the most distant,
the most hostile environment of outer space into our home.
To achieve this, the Russians have become the IKEA of rocket science.
They prefabricate all the rocket's sections
so they can assemble the whole thing in just 20 days.
It makes the process relatively cheap and efficient.
And unlike the Space Shuttle,
which needed a costly refit after every launch,
with Soyuz, they simply throw it away after a single use
and just build a new one.
It's helped our generation to be the first to have people permanently living in space.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
That's it, they're on the bus now,
they're going to drive to the launch pad,
and in just over two hours, they're off.
Suni is about to be strapped into a tiny capsule,
perched on top of hundreds of tonnes of supercooled high explosives.
The vehicle is really cool. It's alive.
It's fuelled with cryogenic fuel so it is all frosty. It's steaming.
It sort of feels like it's ready to go -
not only the crew, but the rocket itself is ready to rock.
All that's left to do is to light the touchpaper.
Nine, eight, seven, six,
five, four, three, two,
Oh, my God, my heart is going. That's amazing.
You see it, and you can hear it,
but you can just feel it. That was...
RADIO: 'I've got Mission Control Moscow.'
As promised, in just over nine minutes,
they're in space.
-'Getting a big thumbs up. The ground team's confirmed the third stage did separate.'
They spend the next two days slowly approaching the space station
before the crew dock at their new home.
They've become the latest members of mankind's most remote colony.
'When you stop and think about it,
'it's only been 50 years,
'and we went from never having people leave the planet to people living in space.
'That's pretty incredible.'
Whether we're hopping on a plane, or commuting into space,
our ingenuity and ambition has enabled us
to move around the planet in previously unimaginable ways.
Right, here we go.
By creating these new networks
we've changed how we live on the planet for ever.
Those vast distances that, for centuries, have separated us,
for our generation, have all but evaporated.
We have shrunk the world, and in the process
turned all seven billion of us into next-door neighbours.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Supersized Earth traces the spectacular story of how humans have transformed our world in a generation. In this awe-inspiring three-part series, Dallas Campbell travels the globe, visiting the world's largest and most ambitious engineering projects, exploring the power of human ingenuity and the making of the modern world.
In this episode, Dallas explores how we can travel further and faster than ever before - and how our desire to shrink the world is inspiring some of the most extraordinary engineering projects on the planet. He takes a treacherous walk along what will be one of the longest suspension bridges in the world and reveals how to move an object the size of Buckingham Palace half way around the globe. He examines how we have created a permanent home beyond the atmosphere in space and here on earth, he takes part in a modern day love affair - a drive-through wedding.