[FPSPACE] celebrate our Golden anniversary - Beep Beep Beep!

Keith Gottschalk kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Wed Oct 3 11:14:50 EDT 2007


      I won't be around for the centennial celebrations - so I'm making
the most of this golden anniversary by having a space-themed wedding:

* in the Cape Town planetarium
* the bridesmaids will be dressed as spacemen
* the wedding cake will be shaped as a HOTOL SSTO RLV

   Yesterday, in Tshwane (Pretoria), I ended a paper I delivered to the
African Leadership Conference on Space Science & Technology for
Sustainable Development with the words I told them I heard on the radio
half a century ago on 4th October: beep beep beep! There were about one
hundred delegates, including the heads of Nigeria's National Space
Development Agency, Algeria's ASAL, as well as Kenyans, Zambians, a
Sudanese, and South Africans.

   Enough of my vanity. Let's celebrate what is of significance to the
world. If we want to talk politics / history, there's two delightful
ironies for our celebration of the Space Age reaching its golden
anniversary.

1. The only time in seventy-four years that the Soviet Union indeed
"caught up with the West" - & overtook it - springing its greatest media
bombshell ever, was for something it had announced in all the Western
press two years earlier!

     I cannot recall accurately if his first name was Yuri, or if the
report was datelined Vienna, but even now after fifty-two years I can
still vividly remember that one sentence report in our daily newspapers
in 1955:

    "The Soviet Union will launch an artificial satellite as a
contribution to the International Geophysical Year, said academician
Blagonravov."

2. Though the Soviet Government had such a big propaganda department
that it was satirized by George Orwell (Eric Blair), they were
completely caught by surprise at the sensation their achievement caused
in the West.

    Someone in our forum reminded us a few days back that Pravda only
thought it deserved a SINGLE column front page report, versus the
border-to-border headlines in all our Western newspapers!

    It's a pity no one from FPSPACE could afford the steep conference
fees at the IAC in Hyderabad to regale us with snippets. All that the
South African media have relayed is that they screened a film of an
interview with the 96 year old Boris Chertok, 2nd in charge on 4th
October 1957.. He must have been born in Tsarist times, & ties with Qian
Xuessen as the oldest living astronautical celebrity.

    Let all of us find a way to celebrate the launch of the Space Age
by Sputnik, that the oldest of us FPSPACErs were so privileged to live
through. Cheers! from the south.

Keith


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