05 Oct. 2007
SETI League
PriUPS Project

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Happy Anniversary, Space Age

You're safe.  You can see from the brevity of this item that I'm embarking on no lengthy reminiscence, paean, or screed.  Just a few tiny observations:

  • I remember the dawn of the space age.  We had a teevee and I was watching it.  Whatever program (Howdy Doody?) I was watching was interrupted with the announcement that the Russians had launched a satellite.  I distinctly remember thinking "It's about time."

  • I explained satellites to my parents and, later, to anyone who would listen at school.  I don't remember that anyone cared quite as much as I did.

  • Radio Moscow was ecstatic!

  • I didn't quite have my ham license at the time.  But I did get it shortly thereafter, and exchanged contacts and QSL cards with a number of Russian amateurs. 

Yuri Gagarin on front of UA1DI QSL Card UA3MC QSL Card showing lunar farside
UA3MC QSL Card - 1961 QSO with WA2IKL
UA1DI QSL Card, QSO with WA2IKL Above: Card from UA3MC celebrating the Russian circumlunar probe, showing the "dark side of the moon" (which, of course, it isn't).

After the initial Russian triumphs in the "space race" the United States equaled and then surpassed almost all their accomplishments.  I was in Central Park when "we" landed on the moon.

Above:  card from UA1DI in Leningrad with portrait of Yuri Alexeevich Gagarin, the first man in space.

It only struck me after unearthing these cards from 1961 that it might have something to do with the fact that while they made great and powerful space ships, the quality of their QSL cards and pretty much everything else manufactured under communism was pretty poor.

I'd love to be able to boast that subsequent to 1957 I've had the opportunity to travel into space, as I was promised in my youth.  But I can't, and it's beginning to look as if I never shall.

NP:  "Look Through Any Window" - The Hollies

Richard Factor

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