Венера-7

Venera

Back in 1970 when the USA was revelling in the Glory of being the leaders in the space race because they put man on the moon, the Russians were continuing to do the extraordinary.  Well, not just the Russians.  The entire Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the CCCP.

On this day in 1970 Venera 7 was the first human object to land on another planet.  The Venusian probe landed hard, it seems the parachute deployment failed.  Initially it was thought to be entirely dead, but the sensors were working and the tapes were recording.  The probe rolled on one side at landing and the antenna was not pointed upward for transmission.

Weeks later radio astronomers pulled 23 minutes of recording from the surface.  The probe confirmed that Venus was too hot for people and contains no liquid water.  It also confirmed that the planet was solid, because the probe landed on a solid surface.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it is in such baby steps that we build our way to the stars.

 

Space Race

Sputnik

On this day in 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik.  The USA woke up to the fact that the space race had begun, and they were not even at the starting blocks.

With the launch of Sputnik the Russians engineered what was called by Eisenhower “the Sputnik crisis”.  The Russians proved they had rockets capable of launching nuclear warheads and reaching the USA.  The payload of 83 Kilos was initially dismissed by the US scientists as preposterous.  They were planning on launching a sub 10 kilo package and did not have the raw power available to shift  such a large mass into orbit.

With the launch of Sputnik the world changed overnight.  The USA, which thought of itself as the premier power in the world, found itself in second place.

In response Eisenhower commissioned the creation of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  DARPA pioneered computer networking and led directly to the creation of the Internet.

At the same time he created NASA to take responsibility for space exploration from the Military arms, which were focused on development of warhead delivery systems.

In the United Kingdom the launch of Sputnik brought into sharp relief that the nation, once the workshop of the world, was now a technological backwater.  Great Britain did not have the capability to enter the space race.

But Outer Space; by Robert Frost (from ‘In the Clearing’ published 1962)

But outer Space,
At least this far,
For all the fuss
Of the populace
Stays more popular
Than populous