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.
Image of Venus from Venera 14 probe.
The title of this post is in Cyrillic, and any Russian speakers will tell you it says “Venera 14” (translates as Venus 14) , the Venus lander that took 4 months and 1 day to travel from Earth to Venus, where it landed on this day in 1982.
On the surface, in temperatures of 465 °C and crushed by 94 earth atmospheres of pressure the probe functioned for 57 minutes, relaying information back to an orbiting module. It survived for 25 minutes longer than the design requirement. On Venus that was considered a good day. On Earth the team celebrated.
It took the Soviet Union 18 missions to Venus before they made a successful landing. If the exploration of Venus has taught us anything it is to Fail well. Every failure is another step to success.
To Failure; by Philip Larkin
You do not come dramatically, with dragons
that rear up with my life between their paws
and dash me butchered down beside the wagons,
the horses panicking; nor as a clause
clearly set out to warn what can be lost,
what out-of-pocket charges must be borne
expenses met; nor as a draughty ghost
that’s seen, some mornings, running down a lawn.
It is these sunless afternoons, I find
install you at my elbow like a bore
The chestnut trees are caked with silence. I’m
aware the days pass quicker than before,
smell staler too. And once they fall behind
they look like ruin. You have been here some time.